Sultan of Oman to be R-Day chief guest

India has decided to invite the Sultan of Oman, Qaboos bin Said Al Said, as the chief guest for the Republic Day parade next year, top sources told The Indian Express.

External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid will officially communicate the decision to Oman Foreign Minister Yusuf bin Alawi bin Abdullah, who will be attending the Indian Ocean Rim Association for Regional Cooperation (IOR-ARC) meeting in Gurgaon on November 2.

Sources said the Sultan of Oman will also be given the Jawaharlal Nehru Award for International Understanding, which was announced for him in 2004.

The Sultanate of Oman is a strategic partner in the

Gulf and an important interlocutor in the bilateral and regional context. Oman also accords high priority to its ties with India.

By according the status of chief guest at the Republic Day parade, New Delhi shows the importance it attaches to a particular country.

During the visit of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to Muscat in November 2008, it was agreed that the bilateral ties should be transformed into a strategic partenership.

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