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DAMMAM (Saudi Arabia): Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi arrived here on Sunday to join other world leaders to witness the closing ceremony of the 24-country joint military exercise.

The month-long exercise, Gulf Shield-1, aimed at strengthening the military and security cooperation and coordination among the regional countries will conclude on Monday.

The prime minister arrived on the special invitation of King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud on a two-day visit. He was received at King Abdulaziz Air Force Base in Al Khobar by Governor of Dammam Prince Saud bin Nayef.

Minister for Defence Khurram Dastgir Khan and Chief of the Army Staff Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa accompanied the prime minister.

Troops of the Pakistan Army, the Pakistan Air Force’s C-130 aircraft and JF-17 Thunder fighter jets, Pakistan Navy ships and commandos from the Special Services Group are participating in the exercise, touted as the largest military drill in the region in terms of diversity of troops, weapon systems and operational manoeuvring.

The spokesman for Joint Gulf Shield-1 Brig Gen Abdullah Al-Subaie told a press conference that the exercise featured two types of military operations: conventional military operations that involved coastal defence attacks against the enemy and irregular war operations carried out by besieging and penetrating villages and industrial installations to cleanse them of hostile elements.

The spokesman said the most important aspect of the exercise was to activate the concept of joint military combat operational plans to counter hostile acts that threatened the security and stability of the region.

The exercise also displayed military uniformity among the participating countries, in addition to the development of a sense of collective security, unity and common destiny, the spokesman said.

The closing ceremony would comprise a parade by the participating troops. King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud would receive the leaders, defence and foreign ministers and heads of different armed forces.

Published in Dawn, April 16th, 2018