Indian, French and Emirati navies to cooperate in joint exercises

India and several of its allies will today participate in the first day of a three-day naval exercise in the

Varuna Exercises

Photo: The Eastern Link

India and several of its allies will today participate in the first day of a three-day naval exercise in the Persian Gulf and the Gulf of Oman.

The multilateral Varuna drills will feature carrier strike groups and submarines from India, France= and the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue (Quad)—which includes, in addition to India, the US, Australia and Japan. The UAE will also participate, joining Varuna for the first time since India and France established the exercises in 1993. New Delhi increasingly views Abu Dhabi as an important asset in mediating disputes with Pakistan. In January, top intelligence officers from India and Pakistan held secret talks in Dubai to calm military tensions over the disputed Himalayan region of Kashmir. Abu Dhabi has similarly sought to assert itself in ongoing negotiations over US troop withdrawals in Afghanistan.

The UAE’s entry into Varuna signals the strengthening of military and diplomatic ties between India and its Middle Eastern ally. In the short- to medium-term, this will likely lead to greater Emirati involvement in Indian diplomatic affairs. In the long-term, these ties could lead to bilateral military agreements. For the UAE, better relations with India will propel the country into South Asian politics, with the potential of spawning interregional trade agreements and improving its image as a broker of international agreements.

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