Indian Army chief Gen MM Naravane’s upcoming visit to Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) signals New Delhi’s intention to boost security cooperation amid the rapidly changing scenario in West Asia, experts and former diplomats said on Friday.
The army chief is set to make a four-day visit to the two key West Asian powers from December 6 against the backdrop of the UAE, Bahrain and Sudan normalising relations with Israel. Commentators said this is possibly the first visit to Saudi Arabia by an Indian Army chief.
India has welcomed the normalisation of ties between Arab states such as the UAE and Israel, saying such moves are in line with its efforts to back peace and development in West Asia, which is part of the country’s “extended neighbourhood”.
Zikrur Rahman, a former envoy to Palestine who also served several stints in Saudi Arabia, described the upcoming visit as a “good beginning” that signals India’s desire to upgrade the security relationship with both West Asian states.
It is in line with the decision by India and Saudi Arabia during Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s visit last year to create a strategic partnership council to monitor ties.