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Oman and India hold talks on boosting military ties 

Oman Foreign Affairs Minister Yusuf bin Alawi bin Abdullah (L) shakes hands with Indian Minister for External Affairs Salman Khursid during a meeting in New Delhi on February 28, 2014 [RAVEENDRAN/AFP via Getty Images]
Oman Foreign Affairs Minister Yusuf bin Alawi bin Abdullah (L) shakes hands with Indian Minister for External Affairs Salman Khursid during a meeting in New Delhi on February 28, 2014 [RAVEENDRAN/AFP via Getty Images]

India and Oman agreed yesterday to explore new avenues for developing defence industry cooperation. Agreement was reached during the 11th Joint Military Cooperation Committee (JMCC) meeting in New Delhi.

Union Defence Minister Rajnath Singh met with the Secretary-General of Oman's Defence Ministry, Dr Mohammed Bin Nasser Bin Ali Al-Zaabi, to discuss bilateral defence cooperation. This included a review of progress made in military-to-military engagements such as joint exercises. The JMCC was co-chaired by Al-Zaabi and India's Defence Secretary, Ajay Kumar.

"The conduct of the Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief (HADR) exercise involving the three services and enhancing the scope and complexities of the existing joint exercises were also discussed," said Oman's Ministry of Defence. "Both countries agreed to work together to combat the issue of drug trafficking prevalent in the North Arabian Sea."

The ministry statement also mentioned that the next JMCC meeting will be held in the sultanate at a later date. The meetings are normally held annually, but due to the pandemic and other factors there has been a hiatus since the last such meeting held in Oman in 2018.

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Al-Zaabi is in India on a four-day visit and has met with the chiefs of the Indian Army, Navy and Air Force, as well as leaders of the country's defence industry, reported the Indian Express.

Oman is India's closest defence partner in the Gulf and is the only country in the region with which all three services of India's armed forces conduct regular bilateral exercises. The sultanate provides operational support to the Indian Navy during anti-piracy missions in the Arabian Sea.

Moreover, India has access to Oman's strategic Duqm port which it secured following Prime Minister Narendra Modi's visit to Muscat in 2018. This is seen as an important maritime strategy to counter China's growing influence and presence in the Indian Ocean.

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