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Defence minister Rajnath to host his counterparts from Africa during DefExpo

NEW DELHI (PTI):  Defence Minister Rajnath Singh will host his counterparts from Africa in Gujarat's Gandhinagar to explore cooperation in areas of maritime security, cyberspace and countering terrorism.

The India-Africa Defence Dialogue (IADD) will be held on the sidelines of the 12th DefExpo.

"Singh will host the defence ministers of African nations during the India-Africa Defence Dialogue (IADD) on October 18," the defence ministry has said.

It said the broad theme of the dialogue will be 'India-Africa: Adopting Strategy for Synergising and Strengthening Defence and Security Cooperation'.

India has been ramping up defence and security cooperation with the African continent in the last few years amid relentless attempts by China to expand its footprint in the region.

The first-ever India-Africa defence ministers conclave was held in Lucknow on the margins of the DefExpo in February 2020.

A 'Lucknow Declaration' was adopted at the end of the conclave that outlined possible areas of cooperation.

"India's engagement rests on African priorities as outlined by Africans themselves," the defence ministry said in a release.

In continuance of the 'Lucknow Declaration' and in consultation with stakeholders, IAAD has been institutionalised to be held once every two years on the sidelines of DefExpo.

"The IADD will explore new areas of convergence for mutual engagement, including in areas like capacity building, training, cyber security, maritime security and counter-terrorism," the ministry said.

The Manohar Parrikar Institute for Defence Studies and Analyses (MP-IDSA) is the knowledge partner for the India-Africa Defence Dialogue.

India's ties with the African continent have been on an upswing.

According to official data, India extended concessional loans of over USD 12.3 billion to Africa and completed 197 projects so far.

India's bilateral trade with Africa has reached USD 89.5 billion in 2021-22 compared to USD 56 billion the previous year.

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