NEW DELHI: Oman has joined the Gulf countries where India is focusing on partnerships in energy and defense, the Ministry of External Affairs said on Tuesday, following an India-Oman Strategic Consultative Group meeting.
The India-Oman Strategic Consultative Group was established in 2003 to provide a joint forum for regular reviews of relations and exchanges between the maritime neighbors.
The latest edition of the annual meetings took place in Muscat on Monday, co-chaired by Ausaf Sayeed, overseas Indian affairs secretary at the foreign ministry, and Oman’s Diplomatic Affairs Undersecretary Sheikh Khalifa Al-Harthy.
“The discussions were focused on exploring avenues of cooperation in key sectors, including energy, trade and investment, health, education, defense and cultural exchanges,” the Indian foreign ministry said in a statement.
According to the ministry, Sayeed’s visit “reflects the strong bilateral relationship between India and Oman, the importance of the Sultanate of Oman as a key partner for India in the Gulf, and highlights India’s commitment to strengthening its strategic partnership.”
India already enjoys strong energy and defense partnerships in the Gulf region with Saudi Arabia and the UAE, but is also developing strategic ties with Oman.
“Indian presence in Oman and its Duqm and turnaround facilities in Salalah provide a strategic depth to the Indian Navy. India has also built the border electronic fence between Oman and Yemen which keeps a lid on infiltration,” Anil Wadhwa, New Delhi’s former ambassador to Muscat, told Arab News.
India gained access to the Duqm port in the Gulf of Oman in 2018, a few years after Indian companies were involved in the fencing of the sultanate’s Yemeni border.
India is chairing the Group of 20 largest economies and will host the G20 summit this year, with Oman as one of its guests during the meeting.
This reflects “the priority and importance New Delhi attaches with Muscat,” Muddassir Quamar, Middle East expert and fellow at the Institute of Defense Studies and Analyzes in New Delhi, told Arab News.
“Oman is an important country in the Gulf region, and is considered an important actor in several regional forums, including GCC, the Arab League and IORA (Indian Ocean Rim Association),” he said.
“Its strategic location makes it an important actor for maritime security in the Gulf. India and Oman have a robust political, economic and defense partnership. The two sides are committed to strengthening bilateral engagements.”