Muscat: India on Wednesday told Oman there was "multiplicity of opportunities" to step up bilateral ties including as a supplier of natural gas even as External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj said more reforms will be unveiled in the coming days to attract foreign investment.
India and Oman reviewed their strategic ties and decided to expand defence and maritime cooperation in maintaining the stability and security of the Indian Ocean region.
Swaraj, on her first official visit to oil-rich Oman, met her counterpart Yousuf bin Alawi bin Abdullah and reviewed bilateral political, economic, defence and security issues as well as the regional situation.
Swaraj, the first External Affairs Minister to visit Oman in seven years, also called on its Deputy Prime Minister Sayyid Fahd bin Mahmoud Al Said and met Minister of the Royal Office and head of the Defence Council General Sultan bin Mohammed Ali Nuamani.
Official sources said the two sides explored opportunities on how Oman can plug into the expanding opportunities in India, including as a natural gas supplier.
Given India's thirst for clean energy, the possibility of revisiting an under sea pipeline was also discussed, the sources said.
The External Affairs Minister told the Omani leadership that, "multiplicity of opportunities to expand ties as India boosts growth," Ministry of External Affairs Spokesperson Syed Akbaruddin said.
The two sides discussed the possibility of increased defence and security cooperation in Indian Ocean region, especially since it has been facing the problem of piracy.
The two sides especially took stock of the current level of cooperation between the Indian Army, Navy and Air Force with their Omani counterparts and ways to boost the defence and security ties, Akbaruddin said.
"Obviously there are a lot of things to catch up on. The focus has been on strategic issues. We hope this visit will set in motion a deeper engagement between Oman and India," he said, adding the two sides focused on strategic aspects of relations as maritime neighbours.
During the meeting with Swaraj, Deputy Prime Minister Sayyid Fahd said Oman is eager to boost ties with India.
The External Affairs Minister told the Omani leadership that, "multiplicity of opportunities to expand ties as India boosts growth," Akbaruddin said.
India and Oman are celebrating the 60th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic ties this year.
Swaraj also briefed the Omani leadership about the economic reforms and growth agenda of the new Indian government and welcomed increased investments from this oil-rich nation.
"A number of reforms have been implemented. More are on the anvil, including in the forthcoming budget later this month," Swaraj said addressing a gathering of the Indian diaspora here last night without elaborating.
There are over seven lakh Indians working in Oman in various sectors. They form the largest expatriate group in Oman. They also repatriate around USD 3 billion annually.
India is also keen on cooperation with Oman in the cyber security area. "Cyber is an important area of discussion between the security agencies, or the security establishments in India and Oman," Akbaruddin said.