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Indian Army Chief holds talks with Italian Defence Minister

NEW DELHI (PTI): Chief of Army Staff Gen M M Naravane on Thursday met his Italian counterpart Lt Gen Pietro Serino and Defence Minister Lorenzo Guerini in Rome and held extensive talks focusing on strengthening bilateral defence cooperation, including military-to-military engagement.

The Chief of Army Staff arrived in Rome on Wednesday on a two-day visit on the second leg of his two-nation tour of the UK and Italy.

About his meeting with Italian Defence Minister Guerini, officials said they exchanged views on strengthening defence cooperation between the two countries.

"General MM Naravane #COAS interacted with Lieutenant General Pietro Serino, Chief of Italian Army and discussed aspects of joint military cooperation," Indian Army tweeted.

The Chief of Army Staff is also scheduled to inaugurate an Indian Army memorial in the Italian town of Cassino.

The memorial has been built to pay homage to Indian soldiers who lost their lives during World War II.

Ways to further intensify defence cooperation had figured prominently at a virtual summit between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and then Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte in November last year.

The two Prime Ministers had underscored the need to further expand defence engagement through greater two-way collaboration and technology cooperation, including co-development and co-production of military hardware.

Italy has been a source of procurement of military hardware and platforms by India's armed forces.

Gen Naravane's visit to Italy comes days after Indian naval ship INS Tabar and Italian frigate ITS Antonio Marceglia carried out a two-day maritime partnership exercise in the Tyrrhenian sea.

The exercise on July 4 and 5 covered a wide range of naval operations, including air defence procedures, replenishment at sea, communication drills and cross deck helo operations by day and night, an Indian Navy spokesperson said.

Defence and military ties between the two countries have witnessed steady expansion.

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