Mumbai: Prime minister Manmohan Singh is in Muscat on a two-day visit to the Gulf country, during which India and Oman will set up a $100 million investment fund and sign an agreement for protecting the interests of Indians working there.
The prime minister is heading a high-level delegation comprising overseas Indian affairs minister Vayalar Ravi, planning commission deputy chairman Montek Singh Ahluwalia and minister of state for external affairs E Ahamed.
Singh, on his first visit to any Gulf country, will visit Oman and Qatar to accelerate two-way investments, strengthen energy security and discuss measures to assure the safety and welfare of the large number of Indians working in both countries.
''The Gulf region is an area of vital importance for India's security and prosperity. We have always enjoyed a very special relationship with countries of the region. Nothing epitomises this more than our ties with the Sultanate of Oman and the Emirate of Qatar,'' the prime minister said ahead of his departure.
''Both India and Oman have a special vision for our bilateral relationship and I will use my visit to find ways in which we can concretise this vision into a broad and mutually beneficial cooperative framework between the two countries,'' he said.
''We attach great importance to our ties in Qatar, which is one of the largest and most reliable suppliers of our energy needs from the region. Given the complementarities that exist between us, I am confident that we can build a mutually beneficial strategic partnership in this sector,'' he had said.
The current international economic and financial situation provides a unique opportunity for India to leverage the vast surplus funds in the Gulf for our development needs, and to accelerate trade and investment flows into each other's countries, he said.
''We have a large number of Indian citizens working in Oman and Qatar. Their contribution to these countries is widely acknowledged and appreciated by the authorities. I am grateful to both countries for the very warm welcome that has been accorded to them. During my discussions in Oman and Qatar I shall also discuss ways in which we can better assure their safety and welfare,'' he added.