India will play role that Gulf nations are comfortable with: Manmohan

November 9th, 2008 - 12:22 pm ICT by IANS  

Manmohan SinghMuscat, Nov 9 (IANS) India will play a political, economic and strategic role that all Gulf countries are comfortable with in maintaining regional security in the Arabian Gulf, according to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.In a joint interview to the Oman Tribune and Arabic daily Al Watan, Singh said that India viewed the Gulf as an intrinsic part of its extended neighbourhood.

“Our links with the region go back several centuries, and so we are not strangers to the Gulf. We would like to view ourselves as a stabilising and moderating voice in a world that is faced with threats of extremism, intolerance and terrorism,” he said, adding that new threats to the security of sea-lanes were also emerging.

“We will therefore play a role with which all countries in the Gulf are comfortable with and after due consultation and agreement. Such a role can include different forms of political, security and economic cooperation.”

Singh arrived in Muscat Saturday for a three-day visit to Oman and Qatar, his first to the Gulf since he became prime minister.

To a question on the effect of the global financial crisis to India’s economy, he said: “It would be unrealistic to expect that the global economic turmoil will not have an adverse impact on us.”

“Fortunately, the exposure of Indian financial institutions to problem assets that precipitated the crisis has been minimal.”

According to him, the current global economic crisis offered a unique opportunity for India and Oman to capitalise on each other’s strengths.

“The Indian economy has a vast capacity to absorb investment. We have well regulated financial markets and sound financial institutions, and many of our key sectors still remain to be fully developed,” he said.

“This represents a unique long term investment opportunity for a country like Oman which has financial surpluses. A close relationship of this nature between India and Oman will have a major positive impact on the economy of the region.”

India and Oman signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) during Singh’s visit to set up an India-Oman Joint Investment Fund with a seed capital of $100 million, which will be expandable to $1.5 billion.

The fund will identify projects in infrastructure, health, tourism, utility and urban infrastructure in both countries and will also set up special purpose vehicles for this.

The two sides also signed an MoU in the field of manpower to boost recruitment of Indian professionals in various sectors in Oman and to prevent illegal recruitment and human trafficking.

Speaking on India’s ties with Oman, Singh said that these have always been of a special nature.

“These are deeply rooted in centuries of interaction between both sides, and in the very special affinity that exists between the peoples of both countries,” he said.

Lauding the manner in which Oman’s ruler Sultan Qaboos Bin Said Al Said has led the country and the role he has played to ensure peace and security in the region, the prime minister said: “Oman and India are ideally placed to review emerging regional threats such as piracy and security of sea-lanes and terrorism.”

Oman is strategically placed on the mouth of the vital Strait of Hormuz.

“We have a commonality of approaches on major international issues,” he said.

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