Gulf 'important artery' for flow of goods and peoples:Salman Khurshid

Salman khurshed

Describing the Gulf as an "important artery" for the flow of goods, ideas and peoples from and to India, External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid today said counter-terrorism, money laundering and anti-piracy were areas of growing importance in ties with the oil-rich region.

"The Gulf region is India's extended neighbourhood. It has historically been an important artery for the flow of goods and ideas and movement of peoples from and to India," Khurshid said, in his address at the International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS) Manama Dialogue here.

"There are new areas of growing importance in our bilateral partnership with the Gulf such as counter-terrorism, money laundering and anti-piracy. Defence is another emerging area of cooperation," Khurshid said here in the Bahraini capital.

Stressing that the vital security interests of the two sides were interlinked, Khurshid said, "We are adding joint military exercises, friendly visits of naval ships and broad-based MoUs on defence cooperation to the traditional templates of bilateral cooperation."

He said that India remains engaged on issues of WMD proliferation and disarmament in the Middle East given the global impact of WMD proliferation, including on India's own security interests.

In listing out the vital stakes that India has with the Gulf countries, Khurshid pointed out that as a region, the Gulf is India's largest trading partner.

"Our bilateral trade with the Gulf has increased from USD 167 billion in 2011-12 to over USD 180 billion in 2012-13. The

traditional dominance of oil imports persists but there are encouraging trends. For instance, our exports to Saudi Arabia increased by over 70 per cent last year to reach nearly USD 10 billion," he said.

He highlighted that two-third of India's oil and gas requirement comes from the Gulf and thus the region plays a vital role in the country's energy security.

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