The Defence Minister of Madagascar, General Leon Jean Richard Rakotonirina, on Friday visited four Indian naval ships in the northern port city of Antsiranana, also known as Diego Suarez. During his visit, they held discussions to intensify defence cooperation between India and Madagascar.
Had the pleasure of co-hosting Hon’ble Defence Minister of #Madagascar for a reception last evening along with Captain Varun Singh, on-board four Indian Naval Ships visiting Antsiranana, Madagascar. pic.twitter.com/uboJa8Ucwz— Abhay K. (@theabhayk) October 4, 2019
On October 1, 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, for a three-day visit. 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.
Media in #Madagascar today on the visit of four Indian Naval Ships to Antsiranana, Madagascar. @indiannavy These four ships sailed from Cochin and reached Antsiranana, Madagascar in seven days. pic.twitter.com/8NL7Cd4LIp— Abhay K. (@theabhayk) October 4, 2019
General Leon Jean Richard Rakotonirinaa addressed a joint press conference along with Indian ambassador Abhay Kumar and Captain Varun Singh the Commanding officer of INS Tir.
Rakotonirina said, "Madagascar and India's relations are centuries old and there is a reason why the ocean that surrounds Madagascar is named the Indian Ocean." Speaking on the occasion, ambassador Kumar also praised Rakotonirina's dynamic leadership in deepening defence ties between India and Madagascar.
Kumar 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.
Further, 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.
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. The reception was also attended by a large number of members of the Indian diaspora living in the port city of Antsiranana of Madagascar.