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New Delhi : Prime Minister Narendra Modi held talks on Saturday with the ruler of Oman, Sultan Haitham bin Tariq, as the two countries pursue a free trade agreement. 

Sultan Haitham is on a three-day visit to New Delhi, which started on Friday. It is the first trip to India by an Omani ruler in more than 25 years. He is accompanied by seven cabinet ministers.

“India and Oman have had an unbreakable bond of deep friendship for centuries. At one end of the Arabian Sea is India and at the other end is Oman. Our proximity is not limited to geography but is also reflected in our thousands of years of trade, our culture, and our common priorities,” Modi said, as he welcomed Sultan Haitham and his delegation. 

“Today we are adopting a new ‘India-Oman Joint Vision: A Partnership for Future.’ In this joint vision, concrete action points have been agreed on 10 different areas.” 

The India-Oman Joint Vision was an outcome of the Indian prime minister’s visit to Oman in 2018. It focuses on building partnerships in the maritime sector, connectivity, energy security, green energy — especially green hydrogen — space, digital payments, health tourism, disaster management, agriculture, and food security. 

During Saturday’s meeting, the Omani delegation also discussed with Indian authorities a free trade agreement, similar to the one India signed with the UAE last year. 

“I am glad that the discussions between the two parties on the CEPA (Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement) are continuing,” Modi said. 

“Two rounds of this dialogue have been successfully completed in which many important issues have been agreed upon. I hope that we will be able to sign this agreement soon, which will add a new chapter in our economic cooperation.” 

Sultan Haitham’s visit comes four months after India hosted the G20 summit, to which it invited Oman — a non-G20 country — to be a special guest, which “reflects the importance and significance attached by the government of India” to the bilateral relationship, Vinay Mohan Kwatra, India’s foreign secretary, said in a press conference after Saturday’s meeting. 

“Although the negotiations on CEPA have started recently, they have made substantial progress in the last few rounds of discussion. Both leaders gave strong impetus and push to conclude the CEPA agreement as early as possible,” Kwarta said.

“We are confident (this visit) will add new dimensions to our strategic partnership between India and Oman.”

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