SINGAPORE - Singapore has sought Oman's assistance in evacuating Singaporeans from conflict-torn Yemen if necessary, according to a press statement from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs on Friday.
Senior Minister of State for Foreign Affairs and Home Affairs Masagos Zulkifli made this request while he was visiting the neighbouring Oman this week to mark the 30th anniversary of diplomatic relations between the two countries.
It was reported early this week that a Singaporean woman and her four children were among the foreigners seeking evacuation from Aden, Yemen, as fighting between Iranian-backed Houthi militia and a Saudi-led coalition continued to escalate. They are on their way home on a Chinese frigate which was deployed by Beijing to assist in the evacuation of foreign nationals from Yemen.
"As countries with small populations and a common maritime heritage, we face similar challenges and share similar concerns in an increasingly globalised world," Mr Masagos said in a speech on Thursday. "This convergence of interests has led to a strong bilateral relationship between our two countries."
Mr Masagos called on Deputy Prime Minister for the Council of Ministers Sayyid Fahd Bin Mahmoud Al Said. They welcomed the positive progress in bilateral ties, particularly the launch of direct flights by Oman Air between Singapore and Muscat.
Mr Masagos also met Minister Responsible for Foreign Affairs Yousuf Bin Alawi, and was hosted to lunch by Secretary-General of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Sayyid Badr Bin Hamad Al Busaidi. They reaffirmed the strong bilateral ties between Singapore and Oman, and exchanged views on regional developments.
In another meeting with senior Omani officials, Mr Masagos sought Oman's continued support for the timely implementation of the Gulf Cooperation Council-Singapore Free Trade Agreement.
Prior to Muscat, Mr Masagos also visited the Duqm Special Economic Zone (SEZ) and was hosted by CEO of Duqm SEZ Authority Lim Chee Khian. A strategic project of Oman, the Duqm SEZ is intended to boost Oman's economic diversification efforts.
Mr Masagos was updated on Duqm SEZ's latest progress and also made site visits to major developments, such as the Port of Duqm, Oman Drydock and a public housing project. Mr Masagos welcomed the steady progress made in Duqm SEZ's development and noted potential opportunities for Singapore companies in Duqm SEZ.
SMS Masagos was accompanied by officials from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, International Enterprise Singapore and Infocomm Development Authority of Singapore.