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Indian Navy ships begin joint exercise with Oman

DUBAI (PTI): Four Indian warships have begun a joint exercise with Oman as part of a month-long overseas deployment, with a top Indian Navy official saying that further steps are needed to completely eradicate piracy.

The ships INS Mysore, INS Tarkash, INS Tabar and INS Aditya, part of the Indian Navy's Western Fleet, arrived in Muscat on Thursday. The overseas deployment is aimed at enhancing bilateral ties and holding naval exercises.

The Indian task group is headed by Rear Admiral Anil Kumar Chawla, the Flag Officer Commanding of the Western Fleet.

Piracy in the Indian Ocean is on the wane but issues on land in Somalia need to be resolved to completely eradicate the menace and create safe passage for a large part of the world's maritime traffic that passes through the trade route of the Gulf of Aden, Chawla was quoted as saying by Gulf News.

"Oman is playing a key role in bringing stability in Somalia," he said.

"The visit is part of the biennial naval exercise Naseem Al Bahr. It is aimed at further strengthening bilateral ties and cooperation between the two countries," Chawla told the media on board INS Mysore.

He pointed out that Oman's ports, especially Salalah in the south, was handy for Indian warships dealing with the problem of piracy.

"Like naval forces of the other countries in the world, the Indian Navy also provides safe passage to merchant ships in the Gulf of Aden by escorting ships from the start to the end point of a corridor considered risky," he said.

"Since Indian naval vessels are patrolling the Gulf of Aden to counter piracy attempts, the navy has managed to capture 100 pirates and foiled over 40 piracy attempts in the last five years," Chawla said.

Talking about some of the Indian sailors still held captive by Somali pirates, he said the hostages were taken on land and only diplomatic efforts can get them released.


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