Saudi-India defence cooperation pact next month: Chidambaram

India and Saudi Arabia are all set to ink a defence cooperation pact during the visit of Crown Prince and Defence Minister Salman Bin Abdulaziz to New Delhi next month.

"The proposed memorandum of understanding (MoU) for defence cooperation will be signed during the visit of Crown Prince Salman to New Delhi sometime in February this year," Finance Minister P Chidambaram said here in an interview to Arab News.

The proposed defence pact will allow shared use and exchange of defence-related information, military training and education as well as cooperation in areas varying from hydrography and security to logistics.

Chidambaram, who held talks with the Crown Prince during his two-day stay in the Saudi capital, said the Kingdom and India "have been able to make significant progress in relationship over the past few years."

A joint panel constituted by Saudi Arabia and India has been working on a draft defence pact, which was agreed upon by Crown Prince Salman and the Defence Minister A K Antony during the latter's visit to Riyadh in 2012.

The recently concluded joint commission meeting (JCM), which was co-chaired by Chidambaram and Tawfiq Al-Rabiah, Saudi Minister of Commerce and Industry, also called for "boosting cooperation in security fields, especially exchange of information to curb crime, money laundering and drug trafficking."

Observing that India and Saudi Arabia have made substantive progress in addressing issues of common concerns, the Indian Minister said: "We will continue to enhance cooperation in addressing common issues."

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