India, Oman plan oil exploration in third countries

Monday, 27 December 2004, 08:00 Hrs
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MUSCAT: India and Oman will study joint exploration of oil and gas in third countries while boosting Indian presence in the hydrocarbon sector of Oman.

Winding up a two-day visit to Oman, India's Minister for External Affairs K. Natwar Singh told reporters before leaving for the UAE that his talks with Omani officials centred on boosting trade and investment, forging collaboration, especially in the oil sector, and setting up mega projects like the $1 billion joint fertilizer project.

Natwar Singh visited Oman Dec 25-26 as part of a six-day Gulf tour that will also take him to the UAE and Bahrain, his first to the region after taking over as foreign minister in June.

Observers said this has been an important visit and would strengthen the close bilateral relations between India and Oman at a strategic level. And the signing of an extradition treaty is an indication of that closeness in ties.

Natwar Singh said the extradition treaty is a major move and has been in the pipeline for the last 10 years.

The two sides also agreed on the need to expand the UN Security Council and to coordinate their positions accordingly. Oman supported India's candidature for a permanent seat in the expanded UN Security Council.

"It is a major move and has been in the waiting for the last 10 years," Natwar Singh told the media at a packed news conference at the Al Bustan Palace Hotel.

He also reiterated that both sides have agreed to look into resolving all pending labour issues relating to Indian workers in Oman. He also promised to look into the aspects of clamping down on the unscrupulous Indian agents that operate from India and send many innocent job seekers on visit visas.

He said that Oman expressed great interest in India's IT, pharmaceuticals, and bio-technology segments.

"We also agreed to follow up on recent excavations in Oman, which showed a 4,000-year old maritime link between the Omani coast and the ancient Indian city of Dwarka on India's west coast.

Natwar Singh on Sunday laid the foundation stone for the new chancery and residence of the Indian ambassador in Muscat.

A memorandum of understanding on cooperation in audit service between the two countries was signed.

Source: IANS
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