PM leaves for Oman, Qatar to cement ties

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New Delhi, Nov 8 (UNI) Prime Minister Manmohan Singh left here this afternoon on a three-day visit to oil-rich Oman and Qatar for talks with their leaders on several matters of bilateral interests, including energy security, regional and global issues.

It is the first visit to Qatar by an Indian Prime Minister.

Dr Singh, who will be in Muscat on November eight-nine on the first leg of his visit and Doha on November nine-10, will have delegation-level talks with the leaders of the two countries and also have separate audiences with their rulers.

He was accompanied by a high-powered delegation that included Overseas Indian Affairs Minister Vayalar Ravi and Minister of State for External Affairs E Ahmed.

In both the countries, the Prime Minister will interact with the business community to invite investment in India. He is also scheduled to meet the Indian community.

"India have enjoyed a special relationship with both Oman and Qatar and Dr Singh's visit to these countries would help further strengthening the relations with India," External Affairs Ministry sources said.

A large number of Indian citizens are working in both the Gulf countries. Dr Singh would also discuss ways in which India could assure their safety and welfare in a better way.

India and Oman are likely to sign a Memorandum of Understanding on labour during the stay of Dr Singh in Muscat.

In Qatar, one of the largest and most reliable suppliers of India's energy needs, the Prime Minister would take the opportunity to assure the Emir that both the countries can build a mutually beneficial strategic partnership in the energy sector.

The current international and financial situation provides a unique opportunity for India to leverage the vast surplus funds in the Gulf for India's development needs, and to accelerate trade and investment flows into each other's countries.

The Prime Minister will return here on Monday evening.

UNI PMD/SH GL RAI1500

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