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India Is A Reliable Defense Partner; Ready To Supply Weapons To Indian Ocean Nations — Defense Minister

India has projected itself as a “reliable partner” and “net security provider” to the countries in the Indian Ocean Region (IOR). Defense Minister Rajnath Singh has said the country is ready to supply weapons to IOR nations, stressing the maritime security challenges in the region, an oblique reference to China’s aggressive posture.

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Addressing the Indian Ocean Region defense ministers’ conclave on Thursday, Singh said: “India is ready to supply various types of missile systems, LCA/helicopters, multi-purpose light transport aircraft, warship and patrol vessels, artillery gun systems, tanks, radars, military vehicles, electronic warfare systems and other weapons systems to IOR nations”.

He highlighted that India is the largest country in the IOR region with a vast coastline of 7500 km, and hence has to play an active role in the peaceful and prosperous co-existence of all IOR countries. Without mentioning China, the defense minister emphasized the maritime security challenges in the region.

As many as 28 countries participated in the conclave. Singh said: “The present maritime security scenario in IOR is posing a number of challenges such as piracy, smuggling of drugs/ people and arms, humanitarian and disaster relief & SAR, Maritime collaboration and co-operation among IOR countries can help meet these challenges effectively”.

Stressing upon the cooperation between the countries in the IOR, the minister recalled historical and cultural ties due to its geostrategic location with the littoral states. He underscored how India attaches importance to the countries in the region, especially by being at the forefront of humanitarian assistance, non-combatant evacuation (NEO), and search and rescue (SAR) operations in the maritime neighborhood.

As part of mission SAGAR (Security and Growth for All in the Region), India reached out to Mauritius, Maldives, Madagascar, Seychelles, and Comoros and assisted them with medical teams, medicines such as hydroxychloroquine, Remdesivir, and paracetamol tablets, as well as other medical supplies amid the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic, the minister said.

India has given a push to its outreach program in the Indian Ocean Region due to the rising threats from China.

It is important to note that the US has also termed India as an important partner in its Indo-Pacific strategy due to its strategic location and influence in the region.

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