Manmohan Singh to go to Oman, Qatar Nov 8

October 31st, 2008 - 10:01 pm ICT by IANS  

Manmohan SinghNew Delhi, Oct 31 (IANS) Prime Minister Manmohan Singh will go to Oman and Qatar Nov 8 on a three-day visit - his first trip to the Gulf region since assuming the office over four years ago.The prime minister was earlier planning to go to Saudi Arabia and Qatar, but the trip to Riyadh could not take off as mutually convenient dates could not be worked out.

“There were date problems. Te Saudi king has to go to New York to attend an international conference on the dates suggested by India,” official sources told IANS.

As there were long-standing invitations for the Indian prime minister to visit Oman and Qatar, the prime minister was keen to make his first visit to the Gulf region during his prime ministerial tenure, sources added.

The Gulf region is home to 4.5 million-strong Indian diaspora that sends almost $10 billion in remittances annually to India and accounts for 80 per cent of India’s oil imports.

Energy security will be a key theme during the prime minister’s visit to these countries. Issues relating to the welfare of Indian workers in these countries will be high on the agenda.

Some energy and economy-related agreements are likely to be signed during the visit, the sources added. Details are being worked out.

With elections barely a few months away, the prime minister’s visit to the two Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) has also political overtones and is likely to be projected as a sign of India’s commitment to deepen relations with the Muslim world despite New Delhi’s growing ties with Washington.

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