India and Qatar are to sign a defence agreement soon, to institutionalise and further cement ties in the field.
Defence Secretary Shekhar Dutt, who is leading a six-member official delegation to Qatar, said the two countries, which had age-old friendly ties, would formalise their relations in the field of defence with the agreement.
The two countries have been co-operating and collaborating in many ways, including in training of military personnel, joint exercises and service-to-service information sharing.
With the signing of the agreement, "hopefully this year", these relations will be institutionalised with annual programmes, said Dutt, who was appointed the defence secretary in July 2005.
India had similar co-operation agreements with other countries like the US, the UK, France, South Africa, Australia, Singapore, Germany and Japan.
In the Gulf, Delhi has a similar pact with Oman only. Dutt was heading a six-member official delegation to Qatar.
During the visit, Dutt met Heir Apparent Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani, Chief of Staff of the Armed Forces Maj Gen Hamad bin Ali al-Attiyah, and chiefs of the Air Force and the Navy.
The talks focussed on expanding relations primarily in the field of defence and exploring possibilities of cooperation as well as the requirements of the two sides, Dutt told the Gulf Times.
Sheikh Tamim was "very forthcoming" about India's potential and Indian expertise which had come about in defence production and defence-related fields.
About an increased Indian role in the region, he said "we are as much in the region as they (the Gulf countries) are" since India straddled one side of the Indian Ocean.
Dutt and his delegation also visited Al-Udaid Base, Doha Air Base, Naval Base, Qatar Foundation and Qatar Leadership Academy.