Modi effect: India secures deal to use Duqm port in Oman for military access

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Prime Minister Narendra Modi visits the Sultan Qaboos Grand Mosque in Muscat, Oman on Monday  , PTI
Prime Minister Narendra Modi visits the Sultan Qaboos Grand Mosque in Muscat, Oman on Monday  , PTI
During Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to Muscat, India managed to secure access to the Duqm port for military access – a move seen by many as strategic and one that sees India expand its footprint in the Indian Ocean region.

This was one of the key takeaways of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to Oman over the last two days. He met Sultan of Oman Sayyid Qaboos bin Said Al Said and an annexure to the Memorandum of Understanding on Military Cooperation was signed between the two countries. According to a report by The Economic Times, The port will act as India's entry point for wider West Asia and Eastern Africa, a welcome development at a time when China has deployed strategic assets in the Indian Ocean Region.

The two sides also signed annexure to the MoU on military cooperation. According to Oman News Agency, it envisages the services of Duqm Port and dry-dock for maintenance for Indian military vessels.

Secretary-General of Oman's Ministry of Defence Mohammed bin Nasser al Rasbi said there are many areas of cooperation with the Indian side, whether in the field of joint exercises, training or courses, as well as exchange of experiences between the two sides and some defence purchases and projects.

India's Ambassador to Oman Indra Man Pandey said that signing the MoUs will promote cooperation between the two friendly countries.

He said that the Indian companies have a strong presence in Oman and have significant investments in the Omani free zones and ports in Suhar and Salalah. He said Indian investments are estimated at USD 1.8 billion in two projects in Special Economic Zone in Duqm (SEZD).

According to the Economist, Duqm’s strategy is important, as its development may challenge Dubai’s dominance as the region’s trading hub". Duqm has  a geographically favourable location that links to Asia, Europe and Arabia, that also avoids the tensions of the nearby Persian Gulf.

Recently, Duqm has seen a rise in Indian activities. In September last year, India  deployed an attack submarine to this port in the western Arabian Sea. A Shishumar-class  submarine entered Duqm along with naval ship INS Mumbai and two P-8I long-range maritime patrol aircraft. India gets access to strategic Oman port for military use, reconnaissance aircraft. The naval units were on a month-long deployment with the aim of enhancing surveillance and cooperation.

Earlier, India and Oman signed eight agreements, including an MoU on legal and judicial cooperation in civil and commercial matters.

They also signed an agreement on mutual visa exemption for holders of diplomatic, special, service and official passports and an MoU on cooperation in the field of health, tourism and peaceful uses of outer space.

India's Ambassador to Oman Indra Man Pandey said that signing the MoUs will promote cooperation between the two friendly countries.

He said that the Indian companies have a strong presence in Oman and have significant investments in the Omani free zones and ports in Suhar and Salalah. He said Indian investments are estimated at USD 1.8 billion in two projects in Special Economic Zone in Duqm (SEZD).

The volume of trade exchange during this year is expected to reach USD 5.5 billion, Pandey was quoted as saying.

The two countries also signed an agreement on cooperation between Foreign Service Institute, Ministry of External Affairs, India and Oman's Diplomatic Institute.

An MoU on academic and scholarly cooperation between National Defence College, Sultanate of Oman and the Institute for Defence Studies and Analyses.

Modi today met Oman's Deputy Prime Minister for the Council of Ministers Sayyid Fahd bin Mahmoud Al Said and Deputy Prime Minister for International Relations and Cooperation Affairs Sayyid Asa'ad bin Tariq Al Said.

Modi and the two leaders exchanged views on intensifying ties in the areas of energy, trade and investment, food security, defence and security, mining and other sectors.

He also had a meeting with leading business leaders and investors

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