India, Myanmar all set to conduct joint naval exercise

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  1. Yusuf

    Yusuf GUARDIAN Administrator

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    NEW DELHI: In keeping with the stepped-up bilateral military ties between the two countries, warships from India and Myanmar are now all set to conduct a joint exercise and coordinated patrol in the Bay of Bengal. Defence ministry officials say a frigate and a corvette of the Myanmarese Navy will first make a port call'' at Visakhapatnam beginning this Sunday before the joint exercise kicks off a few days later.

    This first-ever such exercise comes soon after defence minister A K Antony visited Myanmar in January to bolster defence ties, ranging from better border management to capacity-building'' of the Myanmarese armed forces. Over the last several years, India has been building deeper economic and military linkages with Myanmar - the only Asean country with which India shares land and maritime boundaries - as part of the overall policy to counter China's deep strategic inroads there.

    Myanmar's importance on Indian strategic radar screens can be gauged from the fact that Antony's visit came shortly after foreign minister Salman Khurshid and Air Chief Marshal N A K Browne, in his capacity as the chairman of the chiefs of staff committee, visited the country in November-December. India is also expanding training of the Myanmarese armed forces as part of the overall capacity-building plan, which will include training their pilots to fly the Russian-origin Mi-35 attack'' helicopters.

    India has also been supplying some military hardware and software to Myanmar, which ranges from Islander maritime patrol aircraft and naval gun-boats to 105mm light artillery guns, mortars, grenade-launchers and rifles. Myanmar is also getting some armaments and electronic equipment, including radars manufactured by Bharat Electronics Ltd, for its warships like frigates and corvettes. Prime Minister Manmohan Singh himself had visited Myanmar in May 2012, the first such top-level visit in 25 years, to lay the foundation for greater bilateral economic cooperation during.

    The two countries had then inked a dozen MoUs, from an air services agreement and border area development pact to a joint trade & investment forum and extension of a $500-million line of credit to Naypyitaw.


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