Indian delegation explores defense ties with Kingdom - Arab News By GHAZANFAR ALI KHAN | ARAB NEWS Published: Oct 5, 2011 21:03 Updated: Oct 5, 2011 21:07 RIYADH: A defense delegation from India, which wrapped up its visit to the Kingdom Wednesday, expressed keen interest to build strong bilateral defense ties based on the new strategic realities of Asia and the changing political alliances in the Middle East. â€œNew Delhi, a close ally of Riyadh, looks forward to deepening defense cooperation with Saudi Arabia,â€ said Manohar Ram, deputy chief of Indian mission, here Wednesday. Ram said that the 16-member delegation from the National Defense College (NDC) of India called on the senior Saudi officials in Riyadh, visited the local military facilities and discussed a range of issues of common concerns during their four-day stay in the Kingdom. The delegation, headed by Maj. Gen. Bal Krishna Sharma and comprising officers from a few other countries associated with the NDC, were on a study tour in the Kingdom. Referring to the objectives behind the NDC study tour, Ram said that this trip was designed to promote closer relations between India and Saudi Arabia. In the past few years, India enhanced its military ties with the Gulf states including Saudi Arabia. â€œWe have exchanged visits of our service chiefs and naval ships, and Saudi officers have participated in our training programs, including at the prestigious NDC,â€ he added. He said that India had no defense agreement with Saudi Arabia. â€œHowever, our defense ties have diversified and become more substantial since the visit of Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah to India,â€ said the diplomat. Saudi Arabia is also part of the Indian Ocean Naval initiative, which seeks to increase maritime cooperation bilaterally as well as among the navies of the world. The NDC, located in New Delhi, is an institution of higher learning of the defense forces of India and is the only military institution that imparts knowledge on all aspects of national security and strategy. It also offers training to security personnel from other countries. The Indian Armed Forces are one of the worldâ€™s largest military forces, with roughly 1.32 million active standing army and 2.14 million reserve forces, thus giving India the third-largest active troops in the world. India is the worldâ€™s largest arms importer accounting for nine percent of all global imports. Its defense expenditure will be around US$112 billion by 2016.