Oman Foreign Minister Yousuf Bin Alawi Bin Abdullah, the first foreign dignitary to visit India since the Narendra Modi government came to power, met the prime minister Narendra Modi , as also External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj, and discussed ways to boost trade and investment between the two countries, reports IANS.
Abdullah, special envoy of the sultan of Oman, called on Prime Minister Modi at his South Block office and conveyed the greetings of the Sultan and reaffirmed the importance of ties with India.
Modi conveyed his deep appreciation of the sultan’s gesture and said he looked forward to further strengthening the close ties between the two countries.
The two leaders discussed ways to increase trade and investment.
The prime minister also thanked the sultan for looking after the welfare of 700,000 Indians living in the Gulf country.
In his talks with Sushma Swaraj, the two leaders discussed various aspects, including political, economic and defence, of bilateral ties.
The meeting signalled a “desire for continued engagement at high levels between the two countries”, said an external affairs ministry statement.
The visiting foreign minister congratulated Sushma Swaraj on her assumption of office and hoped to further consolidate the strong bilateral relations between the two countries.
“India’s ties with Oman are friendly and one of the strong relations in the Middle East. The two ministers stressed on boosting economic linkages, including joint investments,” said a source.
The visit was more in the nature of a “political signal” for boosting ties.
Both took stock of various aspects of bilateral relations, including political, economic, defence, security and people-to-people linkages and agreed to further strengthen these.
Abdullah invited Sushma Swaraj to visit Oman at an early date to which she agreed. Dates would be decided through diplomatic channels, the statement said.
The two leaders also discussed enhancing project exports from India to Oman.
In 2013, Indian companies bagged contracts worth $1.25 billion in Oman.
Both the ministers felt that this trend should continue. They agreed to convene the India-Oman Joint Commission at an early date during the year so as to provide further impetus to the growing economic and commercial engagement.
The two sides also discussed the welfare of the large Indian community in Oman.
Bilateral trade between Oman and India is worth around $5 billion per annum, which is likely to increase to $6 billion during the next financial year.
There are over 50 India-Oman joint ventures in the Gulf country.
India and Oman are also engaged in good defence cooperation with naval exercise Naseem-Al-Bahr (Sea Breeze) and air exercise Al Jisr Al Sharqi (Eastern Bridge).
Oman and India are also cooperating in anti-piracy operations in the Gulf of Aden.
Remittances from Oman to India are estimated at $3 billion annually.