PM leaves for Oman, Qatar to tap Gulf for energy, funds

November 8th, 2008 - 6:07 pm ICT by IANS  

Manmohan SinghNew Delhi, Nov 8 (IANS) Prime Minister Manmohan Singh Saturday left for Oman, the first leg of his two-nation Gulf tour that also takes him to Qatar, on his maiden visit to the oil-rich region that is set to bolster bilateral political and economic ties. India and Oman will sign three key pacts during the prime minister’s visit that includes a memorandum of understanding (MoU) for setting up the India-Oman Fund, a manpower agreement and another on consultations between the foreign service training institutes of the two countries.

Petroleum Minister Murli Deora, Minister for Overseas Indian Affairs Vayalar Ravi and Minister of State for Foreign Affairs E. Ahamed are accompanying Manmohan Singh.

In a departure statement Friday ahead of his visit, Manmohan Singh had underlined the “vital importance” of the Gulf region for India’s security and prosperity.

“We have always enjoyed a very special relationship with countries of the region,” Manmohan Singh said.

In the wake of the current global financial crisis, Manmohan Singh also underscored the importance of the Gulf region replete with vast surplus funds that could be leveraged for increased investment in India.

After delegation-level talks Saturday evening, Manmohan Singh will meet Oman’s ruler Sultan Qaboos Bin Al Said the next day and discuss with him a wide range of bilateral, regional and global issues, including energy security, economic ties, the international financial crisis and the proposed India-Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) free trade agreement.

Oman is home to around 500,000 Indians.

Manmohan Singh heads to Qatar - home to around 420,000 expatriate Indians - Sunday evening in the first-ever visit by an Indian prime minister to the gas-rich country.

Pacts on promoting labour welfare, economic ties and maritime security may be signed between India and Qatar during the visit.

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