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Indian Army Chief Gen Naravane expected to visit Saudi Arabia and UAE next week

NEW DELHI (PTI):  Army Chief Gen MM Naravane is expected to visit Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates next week with an aim to further boost India's defence and security ties with the two influential countries in the Gulf region, sources said.

Gen Naravane is likely to leave for the two-nation tour on Sunday, they said.

The Chief of Army Staff is expected to stay for two days each in Saudi Arabia and the UAE, they said, adding the schedule of his visit was being given final touches.

His first destination would be Saudi Arabia, the sources said.

The Chief of Army Staff is scheduled to hold talks with top military brass in both the countries.

In the last few years, India's ties with Saudi Arabia and the UAE have witnessed a major upswing.

It is learnt that Saudi Arabia is keen to collaborate with India on joint production of defence equipment.

Saudi Arabia is among India's leading trading partners, and a major source of energy. India imports around 18 per cent of its crude oil requirement from the country. Saudi Arabia is also a major source of LPG for India.

Last month, the Army Chief travelled to Nepal on a three-day visit that had a significant diplomatic overtone.

In October, Gen Naravane had travelled to Myanmar along with Foreign Secretary Harsh Vardhan Shringla on a very crucial visit during which India decided to supply an attack submarine to the Myanmar Navy besides agreeing to further deepen military and defence ties.

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