In a significant development, India signed an important pact with Oman that allows her military vessels to use the strategically located Duqm port and dry dock, reported The Indian Express.
Located on the south-eastern coast of Oman, the Duqm port offers Indian ships an opportunity to expand their footprint in the Indian Ocean, besides allowing for better access to the critical Chabahar Port in Iran located to the north.
To the uninitiated, the Chabahar Port is located in the Gulf of Oman on Iran’s southern coast with Afghanistan. Geopolitical experts maintain that the port will offer India alternative access to Afghanistan, Central Asia, Russia and beyond, bypassing Pakistan.
It was during Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s two-day visit to Oman, “where an annexure to the MoU on Military Cooperation was signed between the two countries,” reports TIE. Signed in the presence of Qaboos bin Said al Said, the Sultan of Oman, this agreement makes the services of the Duqm port and dry dock available for Indian military vessels.
“The Indian side thanked the Omani side for facilitating operational visits by Indian naval ships and aircraft as well as Indian Air Force aircraft to various Omani ports and airports,” said the joint statement signed between the two governments. “The Omani side expressed appreciation of the training facilities provided to the Omani Royal Armed Forces personnel by India.”
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During Prime Minister Modi’s visit to the Gulf kingdom, both nations expressed satisfaction at the degree of cooperation in counter-terrorism, intelligence sharing and other defence-related concerns. “Recognising their common responsibility towards promoting regional peace and security, the two sides underlined the importance of further cementing bilateral strategic engagement, especially in the areas of security and defence,” said the joint statement.
Besides its strategic value, the Kingdom of Oman has also established a special economic zone in the Port of Duqm, where Indian companies are making investments worth $1.8 billion.
“The Prime Minister expressed his admiration at the ongoing efforts and plans that the Sultanate of Oman is making to diversify its economy and welcomed the invitation to Indian companies to invest in various sectors in the special economic zones of Oman, including SEZs in Duqm, Sohar and Salalah. He offered India’s partnership and cooperation in areas of priority, such as minerals and mining, manufacturing, logistics, infrastructure, tourism, agriculture and fisheries, IT and IT enabled-services, skills development, innovation,” said the joint statement.