Army Chief General M.M. Naravane on Sunday held extensive talks with Commander of Royal Saudi Land Forces Gen Fahd Bin Abdullah Mohammed Al-Mutir as he began a two-day rare visit to the Gulf country to lay ground for deeper military ties.
The Chief of Army Staff arrived in Riyadh after concluding his visit to the United Arab Emirates. It is the first-ever visit by a head of the Indian Army to the two strategically important Gulf countries.
"General MM Naravane #COAS received a Guard of Honour at HQ Royal Saudi #LandForces. #COAS discussed issues of bilateral defence cooperation with General Fahd Bin Abdullah Mohammed Al-Mutir, Commander Royal Saudi Land Forces," the Indian Army tweeted.
Saudi Arabia, the world's biggest oil exporter, is a key country for India in the Gulf region, and the overall strategic ties between the two sides witnessed major upswing in the last few years.
In reflection of growing intensity in ties, Saudi Arabia last year announced plans to invest USD 100 billion in India in areas of petrochemicals, infrastructure and mining among others, considering the country's growth potential.
In another key move, the two countries decided last year to establish a strategic partnership council to further ramp up their cooperation in strategically key areas.
The Chief of Army staff is also scheduled to visit Saudi Arabia's National Defence University and address the students and faculty at the institution.
Before the Chief of Army Staff began his two-nation tour on Wednesday, the Army said Gen Naravane will take forward the excellent defence cooperation between Saudi Arabia and India through multiple meetings with senior functionaries of the security establishment and exchange views on various defence related issues.
Saudi Arabia is known to have evinced interest to collaborate with India on joint production of defence equipment. It is a major trading partner of India after China, the US and Japan.
Saudi Arabia is also a major source of energy as India imports around 18 per cent of its crude oil requirement from the country.
Last month, the Army Chief travelled to Nepal on a three-day visit that had significant diplomatic overtone.
In October, Gen Naravane travelled to Myanmar along with Foreign Secretary Harsh Vardhan Shringla on a very crucial visit during which India decided to supply an attack submarine to the Myanmar Navy besides agreeing to further deepen military and defence ties.