Prime Minister Narendra Modi is likely to visit Oman within weeks. Planning for the visit has been under way since Oman’s ruler Sultan Qaboos on March 2 nominated his cousin Sayyid Asad Bin Tariq Al Said as the Deputy Prime Minister in charge of international affairs, sources told The Hindu on Monday.
The sources said the nomination of Sayyid Asad had given a clear signal that he was the most likely successor of Sultan Qaboos, who has been the ruler of the strategically located Gulf country since taking over power in a coup in 1970. Sultan Qaboos has been ailing for some years. A source familiar with the government’s policy on Oman said the visit was necessary to boost bilateral ties, especially since Oman had been a steady partner of India in the region.
“It is true that we have moved slowly in Oman. India had set up the first bilateral infrastructure fund with Oman, but the project has not moved as fast as expected. That apart, they had asked to give them food security by signing an MoU with India for assured supplies of wheat, rice and sugar and they expressed willingness to invest in an Indian cooperative anywhere of our choosing. These options need to be pursued,” said the source explaining that the agenda for the visit should take these pending issues into consideration.
India and Oman has a strong strategic partnership and Oman was one of the first Gulf countries to warm to the Modi government in the summer of 2014. Both countries formed a joint front against terrorism in October 2014. However, Mr. Modi has not visited the country, though he has been to the UAE and Saudi Arabia and has hosted the Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi. India had tried to host Sultan Qaboos, who was partially educated in India, as the chief guest of the Republic Day parade in 2012 but the visit could not take place. But recent trends showed a warming up in ties as Oman hosted the India-Oman Partnership Conference in Muscat on December 14, 2016, which was attended by Minister of State for External Affairs M. J. Akbar.