MUSCAT: Britain appreciates the efforts and initiatives taken by the Sultanate under the leadership of His Majesty Sultan Qaboos in finding solutions to the crises in the region, said Alistair Burt, Minister of State for the Middle East at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and Head of the UK side at the Omani-British Joint Working Group. In an interview with Oman News Agency (ONA), he described the Sultanate as “a strategic and trusted partner” and the policies by it under the leadership of His Majesty the Sultan enabled the country to become a link point in the region.
Minister Alistair Burt stressed his country’s keenness to consult with the Sultanate regarding issues in the region as the Sultanate has a “good experience in dealing with various thorny issues” and finding appropriate solutions to them. Talking about the historic relations between the Sultanate and the United Kingdom, he said these relations are growing in various areas as both sides are keen to explore more fields of cooperation. As for the Omani-UK joint military exercise Al Saif Al Sareea 3 (Swift Sword 3), he said the two sides have been preparing for this exercise since 2012. “This is one of the largest exercises by UK Armed Forces with the participation of 5,500 troops,” he explained.
He said this exercise reflects the mutual confidence between the two countries. “You cannot participate in such a large exercise unless you are working with a trusted partner,” he affirmed. Dwelling on Omani-British Joint Working Group, he said that the group, since its formation in 2010, has been exerting efforts to promote cooperation and partnership between the two countries through regular meetings. He said the group deals with many issues, seeks to find suitable solutions and deals with issues related to trade and investment.
The UK minister said the volume of trade between his country and the Sultanate, as well as the joint investments and the exchange of visits between the trade delegation have witnessed a remarkable increase. He said the total trade in goods and services (exports and imports) between the Sultanate and the UK reached £3.1 billion in 2017, recording an increase of 92.2 per cent compared with 2016. He said the UK is the largest investor in the Sultanate with 47.6 per cent of all foreign direct investment in 2017 (worth approximately £8.97 billion). — ONA