India & Middle East : Updates and Discussions

RISING SUN

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Members of Oman India Joint Business Council meet PM
A group of about 30 young business leaders from Oman, who are part of the Oman India Joint Business Council, called on Prime Minister Narendra Modi today. They shared their perspectives on the long shared history and maritime links between the two countries.

During the interaction, the Prime Minister highlighted the scope for cooperation in Energy Security and Food Security between the two countries. He also conveyed his greetings to the Sultan of Oman, and greetings on the occasion of the beginning of the Holy Month of Ramzan.
PM announces ex-gratia for the next of kin of those who lost their lives due to collapse of an under-construction flyover in Varanasi from PMNRF
 

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Oman to grant visa on arrival to Indians holding valid visa of US, UK, Canada, Australia, Schengen or Japan
The Sultanate of Oman has relaxed visa rules for Indians, following the footsteps of its neighbours United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Qatar, according to a report by The Economic Times.

Oman is planning to grant unsponsored tourist visa on arrival to Indians who reside in or hold valid entry visas for the United States, Canada, Australia, United Kingdom, Japan and Schengen nations.

Moneycontrol could not independently verify the report.

"Oman visa on arrival can also be availed by the spouse (husband/wife) and children of the visa holder of any of these six mentioned countries as long as they are accompanying him/her, even if they do not hold a visa from these countries," the newspaper quoted Oman Tourism as saying in an email to travel agents.


The visa on arrival will be for a one-month period, and will cost 20 Omani Rial. To avail the visa, applicants need make sure their passport is valid for at least six months, and need to have a confirmed hotel accommodation.

UAE also grants visa on arrival to Indian nationals with a valid US Visa, for a minimum of six months. In August 2017, Qatar had allowed citizens of 47 other countries, including India, to stay for up to 60 days without getting a prior visa.

In May, UAE had announced radical changes to its visa regime that could end up helping Indians living in the Middle Eastern nation. It said it would grant 10-year visas for specialists working in fields such as medicine, science and research, among others.

The move is expected to attract talent to UAE. Foreign students will also be able to avail a 5-year visa while 'exceptional' graduates can secure a 10-year visa.

Right now, students are required to apply for a renewal of their visa at the end of each year. The new rules also state that the 10-year visas would be extended to the families of the specialists as well.

UAE is also set to allow foreign companies to own 100 percent of their businesses in the country. At the moment, foreign companies are required to have an Emirati partner to hold a majority stake in any business, unless the business is based in a free trade zone.

This is expected to benefit many Indian businesses and entrepreneurs who may be facing challenges in UAE right now. Most shops and restaurants are outside free trade zones and require a local partner to operate.
Oman to grant visa on arrival to Indians holding valid visa of US, UK, Canada, Australia, Schengen or Japan
 

RISING SUN

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India, UAE and Saudi Arabia likely to enter into trilateral oil cooperation
United Arab Emirates (UAE) Foreign Minister Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan will undertake first ever six-city India visit next week aiming at creating an energy bridge between Delhi-Abu Dhabi-Riyadh amid impending sanctions on Iran and volatility in global oil prices that has impacted consumers in South Asia’s biggest country.

During Zayed Al Nahyan’s visit — which is a follow up of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s February visit to the Gulf state — India and UAE would create tri-lateral cooperation with Saudi Arabia to secure Delhi’s energy interests that could help to check rising oil prices. EThas learnt that a memorandum of understanding (MoU) will be signed between Saudi Aramco and the Abu Dhabi National Oil Company (ADNOC) for Ratnagiri Refinery and Petrochemicals Limited on June 25.

This is the first such trilateral venture for India involving two oil-rich Gulf countries.

India and UAE energy partnership has diversified from buyer-seller partnership to a more comprehensive one. UAE was the first country to supply oil to India’s strategic oil reserve facility in Mangalore and India is among the few non-Western nations that has been allowed stake in oil field in Abu Dhabi.

During Modi’s trip to Abu Dhabi this February, Oil and Natural Gas Corporation (ONGC)-led consortium signed a 10% offshore concession agreement, giving Indian companies an opportunity to develop Abu Dhabi’s lucrative offshore oilfields which produce about 1.4 million barrels of oil per day. The consortium, led by India’s ONGCNSE -0.09 % Videsh, contributed a participation fee of $600 million to enter the Lower Zakum concession, which will be operated by the ADNOC Offshore, asubsidiary of ADNOC, on behalf of all concession partners.

This is the first time that an Indian company will be involved in the development of oilfields in Abu Dhabi. About 8% of India’s oil needs are supplied by the UAE.

During Modi’s trip, ADNOC and the Indian Strategic Petroleum Reserves Ltd (ISPRL) also exchanged agreements to implement a strategic crude oil storage facility in Mangalore. The partnership with ISPRL, an Indian government-owned company mandated to store crude oil for strategic needs, covers the storage of 5.86 million barrels of ADNOC crude oil in underground facilities.
India, UAE and Saudi Arabia likely to enter into trilateral oil cooperation
 
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RISING SUN

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India on Gulf outreach as injured Yemeni soldiers ready to fly in
India has teamed up with the United Arab Emirates in providing major humanitarian and post-traumatic medical support to the soldiers of Yemen who were injured in the ongoing war against the rebels of that country, a source familiar with the ongoing effort told The Hindu.

The operation has been intensified in the backdrop of this week’s visit by Foreign Minister of UAE Sheikh Abdullah Bin Zayed.

“In the coming week, we are scheduled to receive the largest contingent of injured soldiers and civilians, including children, from Yemen,” said the person in charge of logistics on the Indian side. Sheikh Abdullah’s visit ended on Saturday and an aircraft from the UAE is expected to fly in 63 injured Yemenis and 27 caregivers and support staff early next week.

Humanitarian aid

“This is an initiative to showcase medical diplomacy of India and humanitarian work by the government of UAE and Red Crescent. This major service is possible because of the full coordination between India and the UAE,” said the source.

The civil war in Yemen between the government of the country and the rebels of the Houthi community has become a major international conflict. India evacuated its citizens from Yemen under an evacuation move titled ‘Operation Rahat’ in 2015 after an Arab coalition led by Saudi Arabia and UAE intervened in Yemen.

In June, UAE Ambassador to India Ahmed Al Banna had conveyed that his country hoped that India would support the military campaign with diplomatic outreach in major global platforms. The official involved in the humanitarian support from India said that following a formal request from the UAE, India had hosted hundreds of Yemeni soldiers and civilians in 2017.

“Under the arrangement, these injured soldiers and civilians are brought to the VPS Rockland hospital’s branches in the national capital region,” said the source explaining that the patients with major injuries from blasts and battlefield wounds are evacuated from Aden and then flown to Delhi in specially fitted aircraft.

“The last major contingent of patients came in September 2017 in a UAE military aircraft that evacuated 45 soldiers for urgent medical treatment in India,” he said. “The upcoming medical contingent of patients will be supported by 10 medical professionals including paramedics, doctors, nurses and respiratory therapists,” said a press release from VPS Rockland.

The youngest patient in the team is nine years old and several comatose patients with gun shot wounds and paralysis are being flown in this time. Most of them are expected to undergo orthopaedic, plastic, general and neurosurgery in order to make a full recovery.

The quiet UAE-India initiative has already created a record of sorts because of the complex third party coordination required, the source said. So far, India has treated victims from Iraq and Syria on a bilateral basis.

However this is the first time that such an operation is being conducted through support from a third country – the UAE.
India on Gulf outreach as injured Yemeni soldiers ready to fly in
 

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Two killed, 255 injured as earthquake rocks Iran, aftershocks felt in Iraq
A strong 6.0-magnitude earthquake struck western Iran near the border with Iraq early Sunday, killing two people and injuring 255, officials said.

Reported aftershocks were felt in the Iraqi capital of Baghdad and other provinces, Al Arabiya News Channel’s correspondent said.

A minor aftershock was felt in the capital Baghdad and other reports coming from Sulaymaniyah and Diyala. It is most likely aftershocks from Iranian territory as most of the reports are coming from northern Iraq near Iran,” Al Arabiya’s Samer Youssif reported.

The Tasnim news agency earlier said that a 70-year-old man had died of a heart attack in the town of Novosbad, and it was not clear if this was the same fatality.

Bazvand said a crisis center had been set up, with hospitals and relief organizations placed on alert.

There were reports that the quake was felt far across the border into Iraq, and IRNA said there were multiple aftershocks.

Images on social media showed people being rushed to hospitals, but suggested relatively light damage to infrastructure.

Iran sits on top of two major tectonic plates and sees frequent seismic activity.

In November last year a major 7.3-magnitude quake killed 620 people in Kermanshah province and another eight people in Iraq.
Two killed, 255 injured as earthquake rocks Iran, aftershocks felt in Iraq
 

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India, Bahrain likely to ink pact for cooperation in space tech
The Bahrain government is likely to sign an agreement with India early next year for cooperation in space technology.

“In February next year, the Gulf nation, hopefully, will sign a pact with the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) for training and research purposes,” said Kamal Bin Ahmed Mohammed, Minister for Transportation and Telecommunications, Bahrain.

“The National Science Space Agency (NSSA), Bahrain and ISRO will sign a Memoradum of Understanding (MoU). It has been approved by the Bahrain government and is in its final stage. Hopefully, I will be in India shortly, maybe during the next air show in February to sign the MoU,” said the minister, who also holds the space portfolio.

He added that the agreement will be mainly for training purposes and both countries will cooperate on research and technology.

“It is just a starting point. The government will send some Bahrainis to be trained in India from January for eight weeks to study how they can design and build satellites,” Mohammed said.

Bahrain is also looking to forge closer economic ties with India to attract investment and technology companies.

“We are in continuous discussion with the private sector, CII and Bahrain Economic Development Board (EDB) which is the government agency to promote Bahrain and attract foreign direct investment, and India is one of the important markets for EDB. It has an office there. There will be a delegation there in December,” the minister said.

He further commented that India is an important market and it will become one of the superpowers in terms of economy.

On investment from India, he said, “I believe Indian companies are becoming bigger; they are expanding outside India and the GCC (Gulf Cooperation Council) countries offer them the best opportunity. We are focussing more on technology and knowledge-based industry and services.”

India is an important business partner for Bahrain, and the kingdom is keen to further strengthen the relations with the private sector in India.

The trade relationship between the two countries also prompted many Indians to set up their businesses there.

“Located at the heart of the Middle East, Bahrain is the natural gateway to the Gulf region, with strong, efficient and cost-effective pan-GCC transport links and direct access to Saudi Arabia — the region’s largest market,” Bahraini officials said.
India, Bahrain likely to ink pact for cooperation in space tech
 

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EAM Sushma Swaraj to co-chair 12th session of India-UAE Joint Commission Meeting
External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj will co-chair the 12th session of the India-UAE Joint Commission Meeting for Economic and Technical Cooperation with Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Foreign Minister of the UAE today.

Along with the Foreign Minister of the UAE, Mrs Swaraj will also inaugurate a Gandhi-Zayed Digital Museum in Abu Dhabi to mark the celebrations of 150 years of Mahatma Gandhi’s birth and centenary celebrations of the birth of Shaikh Zayed, founder of the modern UAE. She is also scheduled to interact with the Indian community in Abu Dhabi.

Mrs Swaraj arrived in Abu Dhabi last night. She is leading a delegation of senior officials to the United Arab Emirates. Indian Ambassador Navdeep Suri in a tweet said that External Affairs Minister's visit will give a strong boost to the comprehensive strategic partnership.

India and the UAE enjoy strong bonds of friendship. With nearly 50 billion US Dollar bilateral trade, the two countries are one of the largest trade partners for each other and have made robust investments bilaterally. UAE is the sixth-largest source of India's oil imports and hosts a 33 lakhs strong Indian Community.
http://www.newsonair.com/Main-News-Details.aspx?id=356241
 

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India, UAE to ink MoU for projects in third countries
India & UAE for the first time will sign a memorandum of understanding (MoU) to set up projects in third countries beginning with Ethiopia during Foreign Minister Sushma Swaraj's ongoing visit to the Gulf country.

The MoU will focus on third country projects beginning with Africa under the South-South cooperation model. India and UAE will collaborate to set up an IT excellence centre in Ethiopia riding on Delhi's expertise and UAE's funds in the Eastern African country, officials told to ET.

While Ethiopia is the highest recipient of India’s concessional loans outside South Asia, UAE enjoys political goodwill in the country for having mediated between Ethiopia and Eritrea.

This will be India's second third-country project in Africa after Delhi and Tokyo during their October annual summit decided to set up a hospital in Kenya.

“The MoU on development cooperation in Africa being signed between India and UAE will be a significant outcome since it will be a first of its kind in South-South Government to Government (G-to-G) bilateral cooperation for taking up a specific project in Africa.

We have just recently agreed to cooperate on a G-to-G project in Kenya with Japan, as an example of North-South cooperation in Africa,” economics relations secretary, in the ministry of external affairs in charge of India’s relations with the Gulf and Africa, T S Tirumurti, told ET.

“Cooperation in Africa, such as organising an SME development seminar in Kenya and seeking a possibility of a collaborative project in the area of health service such as developing a cancer hospital in Kenya.

The two countries also acknowledged the importance of expanding cooperation in human resource development, capacity building, healthcare, livelihood, water, sanitation and in the digital space, and of working together to extend access to education, health and other amenities, and assist the people of the Indo-Pacific, including Africa, to realize their developmental potentials,” read the Indo-Japan fact sheet, issued after the Oct 28 annual summit, outlining their intent for partnership under Afro-Asian growth corridor.

Africa is the focus under the Narendra Modi government amid China's push in the continent and countries from Europe are also keen to partner India for projects in third countries in Africa.

Delhi and Abu Dhabi are also in talks to set up second strategic oil reserve in India with UAE's support, increasing funds for infrastructure projects in India, defence purchases and space as the Gulf country seeks to create a niche for itself in partnership with India.


Close on the heels of Swaraj's visit, the ruler of Sharjah will visit India with Sharjah being partner for World Book Fair in Delhi. Sharjah ruler Sultan bin Muhammad Al-Qasimi is an Indophile and fluent in Malayalam.

"India has emerged as a suitable partner for UAE in the changing geo-politics and geo-economics. PM Narendra Modi's two visits to UAE since 2015 and Abu Dhabi Crown Prince's two trips to India in 2016 & 2017 have opened a new chapter in strategic partnership. UAE wants to position itself as a global player, focus on hitherto new areas beyond energy and finance and India has emerged as a partner in that process. The current situation in Gulf -- Yemen war, Qatar blockade and impasse in Iran -- have also shaped UAE's desire to expand partnership with India, an emerging global power which can meet Abu Dhabi's interests," pointed out an expert on Gulf affairs.
India, UAE to ink MoU for projects in third countries
 

RISING SUN

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Qatar Museums officially announces India as 2019 Year of Culture Partner Nation
Qatar Museums today announced India as the Official Partner Nation for the 2019 Year of Culture. The announcement kickstarts an exciting array of programme of exhibitions, festivals, competitions and events that is all set to take place in both countries over the next 12 months.

The carefully curated programme is specially designed to promote mutual understanding, recognition and appreciation between both sovereign nations of India and Qatar. Qatar India 2019 Year of Culture will invite audiences in Qatar and India to explore their cultural similarities, as well as celebrate their differences.

“We are happy to partner with Qatar Museums for the Qatar India 2019 Year of Culture ' and look forward to organising a number of cultural events during the course of the year. These events will cover a wide range of activities including dance performances, musical presentations, film festivals, painting and photography exhibitions, food festivals, fashion shows, calligraphy exhibitions, textiles exhibitions and yoga," Indian Ambassador P Kumaran said.

The Qatar India 2019 logo reflects how festivals are at the heart of people’s lives in India. In fact, the numerous and varied festivals that are held throughout the year, offer a unique way of seeing Indian culture at its best. The Devanagari font, one of the most popular fonts for writing Hindi, is combined with Arabic to create a harmonious blend of the two scripts.

“We are thrilled to confirm India as our partner nation for the Year of Culture 2019 and look forward to working with a range of leading institutions to deliver the incredible programmes that we have planned,” Ahmad Al Namla, Acting CEO at Qatar Museums said.

Some of the key events to look forward to in India include ‘The Monsoon Wedding The Musical, which is scheduled to take place in January 2019 in New Delhi, and a contemporary Art Qatar Exhibition – a landmark exhibition showcasing Qatar’s rapid social and urban transformation through the eyes of talented emerging artists from the country.

“We are delighted to be the Official Airline Partner of the Qatar India 2019 Year of Culture, which will take place in both Qatar and in India. We look forward to celebrating this significant cultural collaboration that will bring people from both sovereign nations together, especially in the fields of art, music, sports and heritage,” Qatar Airways Group Chief Executive, Akbar Al Baker, said.

With regards to events taking place in Qatar, residents and visitors to the country will be able to enjoy the Year of Culture experience at the Doha International Book Fair 2019 where India will be the Guest of Honour. Other highlights include an exhibition by Raqs Media Collective, which makes contemporary art, edits books and curates exhibitions, and a ‘Festival of India’ event that will feature a range of visual arts and performances such as classical dance and music (both Indian and Western), as well as cinema and theatre.

The focus for most of the programmes of Qatar India 2019 Year of Culture will be on exploring and celebrating cultural, artistic and educational exchanges between the two countries. The Years of Culture programme, developed under the patronage of H E Sheikha Al Mayassa bint Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani, Chairperson of Qatar Museums, has gone from strength to strength with each passing year and the breadth and depth of activities have continued to expand.

Qatar India 2019, sponsored by Qatar Airways, was planned in collaboration with leading institutions in Qatar and India, including the Embassy of Qatar in New Delhi, the Embassy of India in Doha, Qatar's Ministry of Culture and Sport, Qatar foundation, The National Tourism Council, Doha film institute and many more.
Qatar Museums officially announces India as 2019 Year of Culture Partner Nation
 

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Oman to grant visa on arrival to Indians holding valid visa of US, UK, Canada, Australia, Schengen or Japan
The Sultanate of Oman has relaxed visa rules for Indians, following the footsteps of its neighbours United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Qatar, according to a report by The Economic Times.

Oman is planning to grant unsponsored tourist visa on arrival to Indians who reside in or hold valid entry visas for the United States, Canada, Australia, United Kingdom, Japan and Schengen nations.

Moneycontrol could not independently verify the report.

"Oman visa on arrival can also be availed by the spouse (husband/wife) and children of the visa holder of any of these six mentioned countries as long as they are accompanying him/her, even if they do not hold a visa from these countries," the newspaper quoted Oman Tourism as saying in an email to travel agents.

The visa on arrival will be for a one-month period, and will cost 20 Omani Rial. To avail the visa, applicants need make sure their passport is valid for at least six months, and need to have a confirmed hotel accommodation.

UAE also grants visa on arrival to Indian nationals with a valid US Visa, for a minimum of six months. In August 2017, Qatar had allowed citizens of 47 other countries, including India, to stay for up to 60 days without getting a prior visa.

In May, UAE had announced radical changes to its visa regime that could end up helping Indians living in the Middle Eastern nation. It said it would grant 10-year visas for specialists working in fields such as medicine, science and research, among others.

The move is expected to attract talent to UAE. Foreign students will also be able to avail a 5-year visa while 'exceptional' graduates can secure a 10-year visa.

Right now, students are required to apply for a renewal of their visa at the end of each year. The new rules also state that the 10-year visas would be extended to the families of the specialists as well.

UAE is also set to allow foreign companies to own 100 percent of their businesses in the country. At the moment, foreign companies are required to have an Emirati partner to hold a majority stake in any business, unless the business is based in a free trade zone.

This is expected to benefit many Indian businesses and entrepreneurs who may be facing challenges in UAE right now. Most shops and restaurants are outside free trade zones and require a local partner to operate.
Oman to grant visa on arrival to Indians holding valid visa of US, UK, Canada, Australia, Schengen or Japan
For a while there, I thought Schengen was a country I never heard of.

^Waiting for someone to claim it was HAARP.
It was HAARP.
 

RISING SUN

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We extend ‘hand of friendship’ to Persian Gulf neighbors, Iran’s FM says
Zarif also said, “We need a strong region rather than the dominance of strongmen in the region.”

Following is the text of his speech:

It is a great pleasure to participate in the 2019 Raisina Dialogue. Allow me to thank the people and government of India and the Observer Research Foundation for their hospitality and excellent arrangements and for providing this opportunity to engage in a “Dialogue” on “A World Reorder.”

I think these two pivotal concepts—Dialogue and World Reorder—are very apt for our contemporary situation and deserve serious attention.

First, Dialogue. Dialogue by definition requires a readiness to listen and to re-examine assumptions. As defined by the Global Agenda on Dialogue Among Civilizations adopted unanimously by the UN General Assembly a few weeks after the September 11 tragedy in 2001, dialogue is “founded on inclusion, and a collective desire to learn, uncover and examine assumptions, unfold shared meaning and core values and integrate multiple perspectives.”

Indeed, a genuine dialogue requires “equal footing and mutual respect”, as well as “recognition of diversified sources of knowledge” and wisdom. It should aim at achieving “mutual enrichment” and “identification and promotion of common ground … in order to address common challenges”.

In this vein, dialogue becomes a new global paradigm as opposed to the prevailing paradigm of exclusion. For centuries—even millennia—politicians defined relations within a zero-sum paradigm: that there had to be winners and losers in every given situation.

Many criteria were either found, or invented, to construct “the other side”, in other words, the side to be excluded. Diversity—be it geographical, political, civilizational, cultural, religious, patterns of military alliances and level of economic development—has been perceived as a threat and thus a justification for exclusion.

Enemies—based on real or perceived differences—serve not only to justify exclusion but in fact as a convenient managerial tool. The need for an enemy as a managerial tool has been so prevalent that at times enemies have been actually forged.

Demonization requires and breeds ignorance of “the Other”, and not only produces enemies, but creates a perpetual state of confrontation.

The realities of our globalized world have shattered the applicability of the zero-sum perspective. Our approach to challenges ranging from the environment, global economy, trade and transfer of knowledge and technology to eradication of extremism and terrorism, organized crime and weapons of mass destruction can bring about either "positive sum" or "negative sum" outcomes. If we approach these common challenges with a "zero sum mentality", we will all lose and end up with "negative sum" outcomes. In the era of globalization of information and emotions, there can be no island of stability, security, or prosperity.

So “Dialogue” in the theme of this conference represents a revolutionary departure, where our common humanity and common vulnerabilities become better tools for global governance than perceived or manufactured enemies. To sum up, “Dialogue brings with it equal footing….as it is a process by which we accept, as much as we want to be accepted. We include, as much as we want to be included. We listen, as much as we want to be listened to… dialogue can be a framework where the weakest is accorded the privilege to be listened to, and where the strongest finds it necessary to explain its case to others.”

Let me now turn to the second pivotal concept: “A World Reorder.” We live in a transitional phase where the convenience of a global order which channeled and organized our expectations is no more. It brings with it the danger of miscalculations which can make the difference between rise and conversely demise for countries and regions. This all highlights the fundamental challenge here: namely, correcting cognitive disorders.

Allow me to put forward a proposition. The emerging global order is “post-western”. This is not derogatory to the West, but simply a statement of reality that the West—as a geographic or political construct—does not possess a monopoly over all consequential global developments.

Today it is evident that unlike the early 20th century, all important events do not take place in the West. And unlike only a few decades ago, the West no longer controls or even influences all significant developments. I will spare you from the many examples of the latter, and rather posit that the practical implication of this shift for our volatile neighborhood in West, Central and South Asia is that we cannot expect the West to provide us with all the remedies—nor can we blame it for all our ills.

Distinguished friends,

Our region—however we choose to define it since regions are not rigid geographies but rather flexible constructs—is seen as the locus of many global problem, particularly extremism and terrorism. Be it West Asia, Central Asia or South Asia.

It is easy for us in this neighborhood to blame the West as the ultimate culprit in our problems. There is no shortage of historical facts here. At the same time, it has been even more convenient for the West to blame us–particularly Muslims–for problems arriving on its shores. Finger-pointing in both directions—and even within our region—is perhaps the easiest diversion.

But the situation is far too serious for a game of blame. While there is a lot of blame to go around, we need to break the habit of always throwing the ball in the other’s court.

As I elaborated in the opening of my thoughts here, it is high time for the countries in our region to abandon two illusions: that security can be bought or imported AND that security can be achieved at the expense of the insecurity of others. We need to stop rehashing our grievances and our narratives of past history and move in the direction of establishing a working and yet modest and realistic regional mechanism.

We cannot wish away our differences, nor can we neglect the anxieties born by divergences in size, or human and natural resources.

We can start with a “Regional Dialogue Forum”, particularly in the Persian Gulf region which has been the scene of so many wars in the last 4 decades; from Saddam Hussein’s aggression against Iran and later against Kuwait, to US operations and finally to the humanitarian nightmare in Yemen.

Admission to such a forum should be based on accepting generally recognized principles and shared objectives, notably, respect for sovereignty, territorial integrity and the political independence of all states? the inviolability of international boundaries? non-interference in internal affairs of others? the peaceful settlement of disputes? the impermissibility of threats or use of force, and the promotion of peace, stability, progress and prosperity in the region.

A forum such as this could help promote understanding and interaction at the levels of government, the private sector and civil society, and lead to agreement on a broad spectrum of issues, including confidence-building measures? combating terrorism, extremism and sectarianism? ensuring freedom of navigation and the free flow of oil and other resources? and the protection of the environment, which is an imminent existential challenge, particularly for our neighbors in the southern Persian Gulf region.

We need a strong region rather than the dominance of strongmen in the region. From our perspective a strong region is characterized by the following attributes:

1- Homegrown political and territorial stability;

2- Reliance on the populace as the source of legitimacy, security and prosperity;

3- Harmonization of national identities and regional citizenship;

4- Participation of all relevant regional countries in ensuring peace in the region through regional institutions, organizations or ad hoc arrangements;

5- More confidence, more trade and more interaction between and among the countries in the region, than with external powers;

6- Economic relations and people-centered interactions, making any resort to war costly and untenable;

7- A regional culture that will place national security on a par with regional security; and,

8- A sustainable regional environment.

We in Iran have been forced into the privileged position of relying solely on our own population as the source of our security and advancement, while welcoming the opportunity to progress through regional and global cooperation. We have also learned that we can only attain security in a secure region, where our neighbors also enjoy internal and external stability. Guided by commonsense, we recognize that the era of global and regional hegemony is long gone and that a stronger region is in our interest, in the interest of the entire region, as well as ultimately in the interest of the entire world.

Thus, we are prepared to engage our neighbors and all those interested in the stability of this pivotal—yet volatile—region based on mutual and collective compliance with the following principles and objectives:

1- Preservation of territorial integrity and the stability of the countries in the region through the strengthening of domestic governance and the prevention of external aggression;

2- Promotion of good governance throughout the region;

3- Exercise of strategic self-restraint by all regional actors;

4- Non-proliferation of nuclear weapons, eradication weapons of mass destruction, and prevention of costly and destabilizing conventional arms race;

5- Promotion of regional balance and rejection of hegemony by regional or supra-regional powers;

6- Strengthening of regional economic prowess and governance;

7- Adherence to multilateralism; and

8- Connectivity and more efficient utilization of transit routes between north and south, and between east and west.

We share with India many commonalities in forging such a neighborhood in South, Central and West Asia. We also extend our hand of friendship to our neighbors in the Persian Gulf region again, in order to move in this direction.
We extend ‘hand of friendship’ to Persian Gulf neighbors, Iran’s FM says
 
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