9 Nov : India and Qatar signed two agreements on defence and security cooperation as Prime Minister Manmohan Singh arrived in this Gulf nation Sunday evening on the last leg of his two-nation Gulf tour.
The defence agreement includes the issue of maritime security among others while the agreement on security and law enforcement covers issues like common threat perceptions and sharing of data.
The agreements were signed following a meeting between Singh and Qatar Prime Minister Sheikh Hamad Bin Jassem Bin Jabor Al-Thani.
Earlier, the prime minister was received at Doha International Airport by Qatar’s Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Ahmad Bin Abdullah Al-Mahmoud, who holds cabinet rank.This is the first ever visit by an Indian prime minister to this Gulf nation. PM for cooperation with Gulf nations to ensure stability Concerned over criminal and terrorist activities in India and the oil-rich Gulf, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has said the two sides should work closely to ensure "a stable and prosperous region".
"Piracy, criminal activities and terrorism on our seas and land threaten the Gulf countries and India as well," Singh, on his maiden visit to the region, said addressing the Indian expat community in Muscat on the second day of his three-day visit to Oman and Qatar.
The Gulf region is part of India’s "extended neighbourhood," and the largest source of the country’s energy supplies, Singh said.
"The Gulf region is an area of great importance to India. It is part of our extended neighbourhood, and home to five million Indians. It is the largest source of our energy supplies," he said.
The Prime Minister, whose first stop on the visit was Oman, on Saturday evening held delegation level talks with Deputy Prime Minister Sayyid Fahd Mahmoud Al Said. He met the nation’s Sultan Qaboos bin Said on Sunday afternoon.
He said "there are many reasons for us to work closely together with Oman to ensure a stable and prosperous region."
Lauding the contribution of the Indian expat community, Singh said annual remittances from Oman to India were more than USD 780 million.
"This is a reflection of your ties with the motherland and your confidence in India," Singh said.
The Government, he said, was alive to the welfare of the non-resident Indian community citing the memorandum of understanding with Oman on labour mobility, protection and welfare of workers signed on Saturday.
The Ministry of Overseas Indian Affairs is in the process of establishing Overseas Indian Community Welfare Funds in all Indian Missions in the Gulf, besides the Overseas Workers Resource Centre, a toll free helpline, has been established for Indian workers in the Gulf, Singh said.
An Overseas Indian Facilitation Centre provides opportunities for expats to invest in India.
The Prime Minister said destinies of the Gulf countries and India are closely interlinked, with large number of Indian expats based in the region acting as a "bridge between us".
"We have had a tradition of trade and civilisation contracts through the sea over many centuries. The large Indian community in Oman (numbering over 550,000) serves as a bridge between us, contributing to wealth and prosperity for both Oman and India," Singh said.
India, he said, was undergoing a major transformation. "Our economy is expanding rapidly. New opportunities for our youth are emerging every day. Our Government has embarked on the largest education, social welfare, skill development and employment generation programmes in the history of our country."
India’s total non-oil trade with Oman, which was less than USD 200 million in 2000, has gone up seven fold to around USD 1.4 billion this year and Singh projected it to go up to USD 2 billion in near future.