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Indian warship INS Kochi participates in first naval exercise with Saudi Arabia

RIYADH (PTI): Indian Navy warship INS Kochi is currently participating in the first naval exercise with Saudi Arabia, reflecting the growing defence ties between the two countries in the midst of fast-paced developments in the Gulf region.

'Al-Mohed Al-Hindi 2021' drill, which commenced on Monday, comprises a number of shore and sea-based exercises between the two friendly navies, according to a statement issued by the Indian Embassy in Riyadh.

INS Kochi, an indigenously designed and built Kolkata class stealth guided missile destroyer of Indian Western Naval Fleet, arrived at Port Al-Jubail on Monday after conducting a naval drill with the United Arab Emirates off the coast of Abu Dhabi.

"The arrival of the ship heralds a new chapter in the bilateral defence ties with the commencement of the harbour phase of first Naval Exercise between the two countries - Al-Mohed Al-Hindi 2021', the statement said.

On its arrival at the Jubail port, the ship was given a warm welcome by officials of the Royal Saudi Naval Forces, Border Guards and Indian Embassy. The ship during its stay at the port will be following all laid down COVID protocols.

The exercise comes months after Army chief General M M Naravane's historic visit to Saudi Arabia in December last year. He was the first-ever head of the Indian Army to travel to the strategically important Gulf countries - the UAE and Saudi Arabia.

Gen Naravane's visit was seen as a reflection of India's growing strategic ties with the two key Gulf countries and it was expected to further open up new avenues for cooperation in the defence and security sphere.

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