IBSA naval exercise no precursor to treaty - Mukherjee

May 13th, 2008 - 2:49 am ICT by admin  

By Fakir Hassen
Somerset West (South Africa), May 13 (IANS) The first IBSA (India-Brazil-South Africa) naval exercise that brought ships from the three countries together off the coast here was not any kind of precursor to a treaty, Indian External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee said here Monday. “This type of joint exercises are not aimed at entering into some kind of military agreement,” Mukherjee said in reply to a question at the end of the Fifth Meeting of the Trilateral Commission of the IBSA Dialogue Forum here.

“We are having these joint exercises and they were synchronised with the Ministerial meeting. As far as India is concerned we have such exercises with many countries with a view to establishing defence and security co-operation. It is for the purposes of education and training.”

South African Foreign Affairs Minister Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, who hosted the meeting that also featured Brazilian External Relations Minister Celso Amorim, referred to Amorim’s earlier comments that IBSA was a very unique alliance and not an alliance against anyone.

“It is an alliance for democracy, economic development and all the values we hold so dearly amongst the developing countries. But it is important to have these naval exercises,” Dlamini-Zuma said.

“Clearly there is a lot that the three navies have learnt from one another. They learn some of the strengths of each other so that they can strengthen themselves. They have said regarding 2010 we have a lot to learn because during this time we have to ensure our countries are safe. It was a good exercise. It was one of the biggest naval exercises since we received our new submarines.

“There is no way that we are planning to have a military alliance with NATO. We are not against anyone. We are for ourselves.”

“Part of it is also the visibility of IBSA for the public,” Amorim added.

“I don’t think that a group of sociologists meeting in a room causes such attention, but a group of boats assembling with their flags causes attention.

“It is also about the confidence we have in each other. We have co-operation in science and technology but this is also linked to the defence co-operation in particular areas. This therefore enhances relations.

“But finally, we all have a common interest in keeping our maritime roots safe, secure and peaceful.”

India brought out two of their top naval vessels, the INS Mumbai, and the INS Karmuk, for this first venture between India, Brazil and South Africa. The vessels stopped over at Durban enroute to Cape Town to repair a local school, offer medical assistance to the underprivileged, and allow locals an opportunity to see India’s naval might first hand.

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