Indian Navy’s ties with Japan, South Korea get a boost

August 29th, 2008 - 8:19 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, Aug 29 (IANS) Following Indian Navy chief Admiral Sureesh Mehta’s successful visit to Japan and South Korea, the two nations have decided to boost naval ties with India.The two countries are to hold staff level talks - the building blocks of strong naval ties between two countries - with the Indian Navy later this year.

Mehta visited Japan and South Korea from Aug 19-24 as part of India’s ‘Look East’ policy. This was followed by three Japanese ships touching Mumbai shores to engage in advance passage exercise.

“The key achievement of the navy chief’s visit to Japan and South Korea is that the two countries have agreed to hold separate staff level talks with the Indian Navy to discuss the nitty-gritty of widening the scope of exercise and bilateral defence cooperation,” a naval official said, speaking on condition of anonymity.

Mehta’s visit is to take further the Indian Navy’s endeavour - the Indian Ocean Naval Symposium (IONS) held last year. The issue of securing the energy lines in the Indian Ocean region, through which the energy requirements of India, Japan and South Korea pass, also figured during Mehta’s talks.

“In fact, South Korea proposed to hold a staff level talk with the Indian Navy. The Indian Navy stands to gain in terms of ship-building from both the countries. Leading ship-building country, South Korea, delivers a ship every two and a half days, which in itself is an amazing record,” the official said.

“We talked about getting their design technology and also to collaborate in development of ships,” he added.

Mehta visited the shipyards in the countries for inputs to help in value addition for the indigenous ship building industry.

During his visit, Mehta met Japanese Minister of Defence Shigeru Ishiba and Vice Minister of Defence Kohei Masuda. He also visited Tokyo, Yokosuka, Hiroshima and Kyoto.

The navy chief visited the Yokohoma shipyard, the frontline ships of Japanese navy and Japanese naval bases. In South Korea, Mehta visited the submarines of the South Korean Navy and met the country’s minister of defence Lee Sang-hee. He also visited the naval academies of the two countries.

“During his visits to the naval academies Admiral Mehta also discussed training exchange programmes,” the official added.

The naval chief’s visit was followed by three Japanese ships - 3,500 tonne destroyer JDS Asagiri and JDS Umigiri, and the 5,400-tonne ship JDS Kashima - touching the Mumbai coast on Aug 23.

“The three ships came off Mumbai coast and on their way out engaged in an exercise with Indian navy ships INS Beas and INS Godavari. The JDS Asagiri and JDS Umigiri were equipped with the Harpoon, Sea Sparrow missiles and Sea Hawk helicopters,” the official said.

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