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Why 2 Indian warships are in South Pacific's Papua New Guinea

As part of its diplomatic outreach, India has dispatched two warships, INS Sahyadri and INS Kolkata, to Papua New Guinea to bolster cooperation between the two nations in the maritime domain. The visit includes various activities, such as professional interactions, cultural exchanges, Yoga sessions, and ship visits. 

Why 2 Indian warships are in South Pacific's Papua New Guinea
First Published Aug 4, 2023, 9:32 AM IST

As part of its diplomatic outreach programme, India has sent two warships -- INS Sahyadri and INS Kolkata -- to the island nation of Papua New Guinea in a bid to enhance cooperation between the two countries. “Indian Naval Ships Sahyadri and Kolkata, mission deployed in the Eastern Indian Ocean Region, arrived at Port Moresby on August 2 for enhancing maritime partnership and cooperation with Papua New Guinea (PNG), in South Pacific,” an Indian Navy official said.

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Stating that the port call is aimed at strengthening ties between India and Papua New Guinea in the maritime domain, the Indian Navy said that the crew from both warships will engage with personnel from PNG Defence Forces in a wide range of activities, including professional interactions, cultural exchanges, Yoga sessions and ship visits.

It must be noted that Papua New Guinea is located in the South Pacific, which is a sub-region of the larger Indo-Pacific and is considered important from the point of view of the geopolitics of the region. For few years, China has been investing heavily in the region by extending financial support and building infrastructures.

Commanded by Captain Rajan Kapoor, INS Sahyadri is the third ship of the indigenously designed and built multirole stealth frigates while INS Kolkata is the first ship of the indigenously designed and built destroyers. She is commanded by Captain Sharad Sinsunwal.

As part of its Act East policy, New Delhi has been reaching out or further strengthening its ties beyond the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN). It also emphasized strengthening ties with 14 Pacific island countries. 

These nations are Fiji, Papua New Guinea, Kiribati, Cook Islands, Nauru, Tuvalu, Tonga, Solomon Islands, Samoa, Niue, Vanuatu, Palau, Marshall Islands and Micronesia.

The island nation may be located in a geographically remote region, but has strategic significance for India as they sit astride important sea lines of communication and important trade routes through which important maritime trade is carried out.

It is pertinent to mention that in May Prime Minister Narendra Modi had visited Papua New Guinea, which underscored the close friendship of India with the Pacific Island countries. He was the first Indian prime minister to visit this island nation.

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