Oman has granted India access to the port of Duqm for military use following the signing of a pact between the two countries during Prime Minister Narendra Modi's visit to the Gulf nation, the Indian Express has reported.
According to the report, the Indian Navy will now be able to use the strategically located port for logistical support and maintenance of vessels.
The port is located in southern Oman, straddling critical sea lanes in the Arabian Sea and the Gulf of Aden. The port will be part of a string of military facilities that India is developing in the Indian Ocean region to counter China’s increasing presence.
Last month, India signed a deal with Seychelles to develop ‘military infrastructure’ on one of its strategically located islands in the western Indian Ocean. India is also set to develop military infrastructure on Mauritius’ Agalega island. New Delhi may also sign a defence logistics agreement with France, similar to the Logistics Exchange Memorandum of Agreement (LEMOA) with the United States.
The development of bases in the Indian Ocean and agreements such as LEMOA will give India a string of facilities that it can use to project power in the Indian Ocean.
In recent years, China has significantly increased deployment of naval assets in the region. It could be planning to set up a base in Pakistan’s Gwadar port, which it has acquired for a period of 40 years. It has also acquired Sri Lanka’s Hambantota port for 99 years in a ‘debt-equity’ swap and has also expanded presence in the Maldives. Apart from surface vessels, India has also spotted conventional and nuclear submarines of the People’s Liberation Army Navy in the Indian Ocean.