Oman Foreign Minister Yousuf bin Alawi bin Abdullah Tuesday met Prime Minister Narendra Modi and conveyed greetings of the Sultan of the Arabian country, reaffirming the importance of the relations with India.
Conveying his appreciation for the Sultan of Oman’s gesture, Modi said he looked forward to further strengthening the close ties between the two countries. He also thanked the Sultan of Oman for looking after the welfare of 7 lakh Indians living in the Gulf country.
According to an official statement they discussed ways to increase trade and investment between the two countries. Earlier in the day, the visiting dignitary held talks with his Indian counterpart Sushma Swaraj and discussed ways to further consolidate the strong bilateral relations, including enhancing project exports from India.
Signalling a desire for continued engagement at high levels between the two countries, the Omani leader’s visit is the first by any foreign dignitary to India after the Modi-led dispensation came to power.
During the meeting, the two foreign ministers took stock of various aspects of bilateral relations including political, economic, defence, security and people-to-people linkages and agreed to further strengthen them, official sources said. He also invited Swaraj to visit Oman.
“During 2013, Indian companies bagged contracts worth USD 1.25 billion in Oman. Both the Ministers felt that this trend should be continued. The two ministers agreed to convene the India-Oman Joint Commission,” an official said.
Oman is an important trading partner of India in the Gulf region with bilateral trade exceeding USD 5.70 billion in 2013-14. There are over 50 Indo-Oman joint ventures in the Arabian country.
India and Oman are also engaged in defence cooperation with institutionalised naval exercise ‘Sea Breeze and Naseem-Al-Bahr’ and Air Exercise ‘Eastern Bridge and Al Jisr Al Sharqi’. Oman and India are also cooperating in anti-piracy operations in the Gulf of Aden.
Of the total 4 million population of Oman, expatriates constitute 1.77 million and Indians with 7 lakh are the largest expatriate community.
Welfare of the large Indian community in Oman was also discussed, the officials added.