Muscat: The armed forces of Oman and Iran will work together to tackle drug and human trafficking in the area following a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) signed on Tuesday between the defence ministers of the two countries in Tehran.
Sayyid Badr Bin Saud Bin Harib Al Bu Saidi, Oman’s Minister Responsible for Defence Affairs, and Iranian Defence Minister Brigadier General Hussain Dehghan signed on Tuesday the MoU in Tehran which an Oman News Agency (ONA) report said will serve as a framework for military cooperation between the ministries of defence in both “friendly countries”.
Iran’s Press TV reported that under the agreement, the Armed Forces of Iran and Oman will boost cooperation in the fields of education, sports, and culture, and work together in tackling drug and human trafficking.
Oman has been facing the problem of human trafficking for over a decade now. Asian migrants are sent on foot across to Iran from the Pakistan border and then are packed in boats before being dropped along Oman’s long coastline, particularly in the northern region.
The infiltrators, Omani police believe, are behind an increase in the crime rate as well as drug use in the society.
The then Iranian envoy to Oman, Morteza Rahimi, had told Gulf News in 2008 that Iran was determined to stop the practice of their ports being used to ferry illegal human traffic. In the five years from 2002, Oman had deported about 40,000 illegal immigrants, who were believed to have come by boat, back to their respective countries.
There have been tripartite efforts between Oman, Iran and Pakistan to counter human trafficking but infiltrators continue to be a problem for Oman.
“The security of the [Arabian] Gulf is intertwined with global security, and Iran has the slogan of peace and stability for the region, which is the vital need for both the regional countries and the world,” Hussain Dehqan was quoted saying by Iran’s Press TV.
“Starting defence cooperation with regional countries was also discussed and we hope that with the cooperation of the minister and the country of Oman, such collaboration will also take place,” he said about his talks with his Omani counterpart.
Dehghan told Iran’s IRNA that sustainable security was possible only through constructive cooperation among regional countries based on trust-building and good neighbourly ties.
Referring to the history of ties between Iran and Oman, Dehghan pointed to the recent visit of Sultan Qaboos Bin Saeed to Iran and stressed the existence of friendly ties between the two countries, particularly in the field of defence cooperation.
He said that the Iran-Oman defence relations could serve as a role model for constructive and fruitful ties, noting that both countries should work to make other regional countries adopt similar policies.
The Omani minister also met Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani.