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Indian Army chief to visit France, Britain

Gen JJ Singh is visiting France and Britain to inject "the necessary impetus" into India's defence relationship with the two countries.

india Updated: Jun 21, 2007 18:08 IST

Indian Army chief Gen JJ Singh is visiting France and Britain June 24-July 2 to inject "the necessary impetus" into India's defence relationship with the two countries and "broadbase it into a mutually beneficial partnership".

The visits "come at a time when our defence cooperation with these important European countries has been at an all time high", a defence ministry statement said.

The joint activities that the Indian armed forces undertake with France and Britain encompass visits, joint exercises, training exchanges, equipment procurement and participation in seminars and conferences.

Singh will interact with senior military and civilian officials and discuss various contemporary defence-related issues, the statement said.

Visits to important joint service bases and operational headquarters have also been planned.

In France, Singh will pay homage at a memorial in Neuve Chappell that honours the Indian soldiers who laid down their lives during the First World War.

In London, he has been invited to address an elite audience at the International Institute of Strategic Studies on "Indian Armed Forces: Present and Future Perspective".

Earlier this year, Singh had visited China, Israel and Italy to foster increased military interaction between India and these countries.

Indian Navy chief Admiral Sureesh Mehta is currently on a six-day visit to Britain that ends on Saturday.

Indicative of the close India-Britain military ties, the Indian Air Force (IAF) will, for the first time, field its frontline Sukhoi SU-30 combat jets in a western country when it conducts a joint drill with the Royal Air Force (RAF) later in June.

This is also the first time the IAF will conduct a joint drill in Britain and only the second time with the RAF in an exercise code-named Indradhanush-2007. The previous such drill was held at Gwalior last October.

The IAF contingent for the June 24-July 19 exercise at the Waddington air base comprises six SU-30s, one IL-78 midair tanker, one IL-76 transport and some 200 personnel.

Ranged against them will be RAF Typhoon fighters, a VC-10 midair refuelling aircraft and an E-3D AWACS (airborne warning and control system) aircraft.

The IAF chief, Air Chief Marshal Fali Major will witness the exercise July 9-15.

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