Army chief General Manoj Pande left for a visit to Egypt on Monday as part of the ongoing military outreach to African nations, even as chief of defence staff General Anil Chauhan is now in the US to take part in a Indo-Pacific security dialogue with top military officers from the `Quad’ countries, UK and others.
Gen Pande’s three-day visit comes after the Special Forces of India and Egypt conducted their first-ever joint Army exercise called “Cyclone-1” at Jaisalmer in Rajasthan in January, while the government also hosted Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi as the chief guest at the Republic Day parade this year. India had also conducted a field training exercise with African countries at Pune in March.
“During the visit, Gen Pande will be meeting Egypt’s senior military leadership where he will discuss avenues for further enhancing bilateral defence relations. He will be visiting various Egyptian armed forces establishments and exchange ideas on issues of mutual interest,” an official said.
Gen Pande will interact with the commander-in-chief and the chief of staff of the Egyptian Armed Forces and the minister of defence & military production, among others.
“Gen Pande’s visit will further deepen the bilateral relationships between the two armies and act as a catalyst for closer coordination and cooperation between the two countries on a host of strategic issues,” the official said.
Gen Chauhan, in turn, is visiting the US from May 15 to 17 to take part in the Indo-Pacific dialogue organized by the Hoover Institute in California. He will also interact with US Indo-Pacific commander Admiral John C Aquilino, Japanese chief of staff General Yoshihide Yoshida and Australian defence chief General Angus J Campbell. The UK will be represented by a Vice Admiral-rank officer at the conference.
India stresses it pursues a policy of “strategic autonomy” and that the Quad grouping with the US, Australia and Japan is not a military bloc or alliance. But the quadrilateral Malabar naval exercise, which will be conducted off Australia for the first time this year, provides a very visible military dimension to the Quad grouping.
All these four `Quad’ countries have also openly declared their intent to deter any `coercion’ in the Indo-Pacific in the face of China’s expansionist behaviour. AUKUS, in turn, is a clear-cut military pact among the US, UK and Australia, under which Canberra will gradually acquire at least eight nuclear-powered submarines, again with an eye firmly on China.
Gen Chauhan’s visit comes at a time when the US is getting set to host PM Narendra Modi for a state visit in June, where he would also be attending a dinner hosted by President Joe Biden.
Source: Times of India