Indian defence industry keen to support African countries: Rawat

Pune, Mar 27 (PTI) Army Chief General Bipin Rawat said here Wednesday the Indian defence industry was keen to support African countries in the acquisition of latest military hardware. He was speaking at the closing ceremony of Africa-India Field Training Exercise-2019 (AFINDEX-19) at Aundh Military station. Referring to an equipment display organised under the aegis of Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce & Industry (FICCI) after the exercise, Rawat said it was a "humble attempt to showcase the emerging Indian defence industry". "The defence industry is keen to support African nations in aquiring the latest military hardware, aimed at capacity enhancements in tune with emerging trends," the Army chief said. India's relations with African countries were based on a development partnership, on common strategic convergences and economic interests, he said. "India is one of the largest contributors to peace-keeping operations in Africa and has participated in nearly all the peace-keeping operations in the continent and currently (has) sizable contingents in the Democratic Republic of Congo and South Sudan," Rawat said. The aim of AFINDEX-19 was to train participating contingents in "humanitarian mine assistance" and peacekeeping operation, enhance cooperation, share best practices and achieve interoperatibility among all African armies, he said. The focus of "humanitarian mine assistance" was on education, awareness and casualty evacuation and victim rehabilitation, he said. Such exercises should be conducted on a regular basis, Rawat added. Representatives of 17 African countries -- Benin, Botswana, Egypt, Ghana, Kenya, Mauritius, Mozambique, Namibia, Niger, Nigeria, Senegal, South Africa, Sudan, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia and Zimbabwe -- took part in the ten-day long exercise. It showcased tactical drills such as convoy protection and neutralisation of Improvised Explosive Devices (IED). The Indian contingent was represented by Maratha Light Infantry (Jangi Paltan). PTI SPK KRK CK