Terrorism threatens Gulf as much as it does India: PM

November 9th, 2008 - 3:40 pm ICT by IANS  

Manmohan SinghMuscat, Nov 9 (IANS) Terrorism on land and sea threatens the Gulf region as much as it does India, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said here Sunday.Stating that there are many reasons for India to work closely with the Gulf nation of Oman to ensure a stable and prosperous region, Singh said: “Piracy, criminal activities and terrorism on our land and seas threaten the Gulf countries and India as well.”

He said this while addressing a gathering of the Indian diaspora in Oman at the Indian embassy on the second day of his three-day tour to the Gulf, his first as prime minister.

The prime minister’s comments come in the wake of a number of ships, including Indian, being hijacked by Somalian pirates in the Gulf of Aden in recent times.

In the course of the Qatar leg of the prime minister’s trip starting Sunday, India will sign two agreements on defence and security cooperation with that Gulf nation.

The pact on defence will cover the issue of maritime security as well, it is learnt.

Stating that the Gulf is an area of great importance to India, Singh said: “It (the Gulf) is part of our extended neighbourhood and home to five million Indians. It is the largest source of our energy supplies. We have active trade and investment interests.”

In a separate interview to Oman Tribune and the Arabic daily Al Watan, he had said that India would play a political, economic and strategic role that all Gulf countries were comfortable with in maintaining regional security in the Arabian Gulf.

“Our links with the region go back several centuries, and so we are not strangers to the Gulf,” he was quoted as saying.

“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,” the prime minister said.

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