General Naravane had earlier visited the UAE in the first such visit by an Indian Army Chief to the region

Chief of Army Staff General MM Naravane is in Saudi Arabia for a two-day official visit to discuss bilateral issues related to defence cooperation.

This follows his visit to the United Arab Emirates on the first leg of his two-nation tour to the Gulf region, making him the first Indian Army Chief to embark on such a visit to the Arab world.

General Naravane, during his visit to Riyadh, called on General Staff Fayyad bin Hamid Ruwaili, Chief of General Staff and discussed issues of mutual interest and defence cooperation.

Informing the same on Twitter, the Indian Army wrote, “General MM Naravane #COAS, visited Ministry of Defence #Riyadh and called on General Staff Fayyad bin Hamid Ruwaili, Chief of General Staff #CGS. #COAS discussed issues of mutual interest and defence cooperation.”

He also held talks with Lieutenant General Mutlaq bin Salim bin Al-Azima, Commander of the Joint Forces. Both sides exchanged views on defence cooperation, the Indian Army said in another tweet.

He discussed issues of bilateral defence cooperation with General Fahd Bin Abdullah Mohammed Al-Mutir, Commander Royal Saudi Land Forces, the Indian Army said.

General Naravane also received a Guard of Honour at the HeadQuarters of Royal Saudi Land Forces, it said further.

In the first leg of his visit, General Naravane visited the UAE where he met with the UAE's Commander of the Land Forces Major General Saleh Mohammed Saleh Al Ameri and discussed bilateral defence cooperation and issues of mutual concern.

“#COAS visit to #UAE aims to further strengthen bilateral defence cooperation between the countries,” the Indian Army said on twitter.

He was also conferred with the Guard of Honour at the Headquarters of Land Forces of UAE where he also laid wreath at Martyr’s Point, it said further.

The UAE and Saudi Arabia are two of the most powerful countries in the Gulf region and key trade partners with India. India sees both nations as important pillars to its aim to increase footprint in the Gulf region.

The strategic partnership between India and Saudi Arabia has risen in the past few years. From trade and investment to defence sector, Saudi Arabia has made huge investments in India.

Last year, during Prime Minister Narendra Modi's visit to Riyadh, the two countries signed 12 agreements and Memorandums of Understanding (MoUs) in sectors ranging from defence industries collaboration to renewable energy, security cooperation and civil aviation.

Not just that, the Arab country last year also announced its plans to invest US $100 billion in India in sectors such as petrochemicals, infrastructure and mining. Saudi Arabia has already surpassed Iran as the largest supplier of oil to India.

As far as the UAE is concerned, last month, both nations held the eighth meeting of the High-Level Joint Task Force on Investments. The meeting was held to discuss ways to encourage investment and cooperation to stimulate the economy amid COVID-19 and in the post-COVID era.

With an aim to further strengthen the excellent trade and economic ties between the two countries, both sides reiterated the importance of addressing specific perceived barriers to trade between the two countries.

Apart from that, India and the UAE have inked several defence cooperation agreements with India. Overall, India also sees the UAE and Saudi Arabia as important allies in countering the threats from its ‘not so cooperating’ neighbour Pakistan.