India, Madagascar intensify defence cooperation

Antananarivo : Defence Minister of Madagascar, General Leon Jean Richard Rakotonirina, on Friday (local time) visited four Indian naval ships in the northern port city of Antsiranana, also known as Diego Suarez, and held discussions to intensify defence cooperation between the two countries.

As part of Indian Navy’s Overseas Deployment, ships of Indian Navy’s First Training Squadron – Indian Naval Ships Tir, Sujata and Indian Coast Guard Ship Sarathi – arrived at Antsiranana, Madagascar, on October 1, for a three-day visit.

The senior officer of the First Training Squadron is Captain Varun Singh, who is also Commanding Officer of INS Tir.

Indian Navy ships are regularly deployed overseas as part of Indian Navy’s mission of building ‘bridges of friendship’ and strengthening international cooperation with friendly countries.

Addressing a joint press conference with Indian ambassador Abhay Kumar and Captain Singh onboard, Rakotonirina said that Madagascar and India relations are centuries old and there is a reason why the ocean that surrounds Madagascar is named the Indian Ocean.

Later in the evening, the Defence Minister also attended a reception hosted by the Ambassador onboard and sung a Hindi song ‘Kuchh kuchh hota hai’ after his speech which he requested to be simultaneously translated into Hindi.

Speaking on the occasion, ambassador Kumar praised Rakotonirina’s dynamic leadership in deepening defence ties between India and Madagascar.

He also reiterated that Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s vision of Security And Growth for All in Indian Ocean Region (SAGAR) and President Andry Rajoelina plan of Emergence of Madagascar complement each other and the two countries can work together to fulfil the vision.

He also cited the example of Indian Navy becoming the first responder in the aftermath of Cyclone Idai that killed more than 600 people in Mozambique in March.

The reception was also attended by a large number of members of the Indian diaspora, mostly from Gujarat, who live in the port city of Antsiranana of Madagascar.

Later, the Defence Minister, the Chief of Malagasy Navy and other senior members of Malagasy Armed Forces interacted with the officers of the ships onboard and mingled with the Indian diaspora.

Trainees of the Indian Navy also performed various Indian dances on this occasion.

India and Madagascar had signed a defence cooperation agreement in March 2018 during the visit of President Ram Nath Kovind to the island nation in the Indian Ocean.