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16 Feb, 2024 09:33

India vows to strengthen ties with Qatar

Modi held talks with the Qatari emir days after the country released eight navy veterans who had been sentenced to death
India vows to strengthen ties with Qatar

India is looking to scale up cooperation with energy-rich Qatar in key sectors including trade, investment and technology, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said during his visit to the country on Thursday.

During his meeting with Emir of Qatar Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, the leaders discussed economic cooperation, energy partnership, and space collaboration, the Indian foreign ministry stated. The crisis in the Middle East arising from the Israel-Hamas war in Gaza also featured in the discussion.

The Indian leader’s visit to Qatar came days after the Middle Eastern country released eight Indian Navy veterans who had been sentenced to death after being charged with espionage. The release was announced by New Delhi on Monday, shortly before seven of the eight men landed in the Indian capital and praised Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the authorities for assisting in their release.

Qatar’s move to release the navy veterans came just a few days after New Delhi and Doha signed a deal worth an estimated $78 billion to extend LNG imports from the Arab country by 20 years until 2048 at rates lower than current prices. The deal was announced earlier this month during India Energy Week in Goa.

Meanwhile, in Doha, Modi personally thanked the emir for “taking care” of the 800,000-strong Indian community in Qatar and urged him to visit India. According to New Delhi’s readout, the Qatari emir noted the contribution of the “vibrant Indian community” in the development of the country.

The move to deepen economic cooperation and diplomacy between the two nations comes against a backdrop of growing bilateral trade, which stands at around $20 billion, according to Indian Foreign Secretary Vinay Kwatram. “The long-term LNG partnership goes way back to 1999 and remains robust, strong, and future-oriented, “ he noted during a media briefing on Thursday.

Upon landing in Doha on February 14, Modi also met with Qatari Foreign Minister Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani. They discussed regional developments in the Middle East and stressed the importance of “upholding peace and stability,” New Delhi’s readout said.

Modi had previously endorsed a “two-state solution” to end the Israel-Palestine war in the region. Al Thani has called for a ceasefire in Gaza and accused Tel Aviv of committing “genocide” in the besieged enclave.

Qatar was the second stop on Modi’s three-day tour of the Middle East. He had previously visited the UAE, where he signed several key deals with the country’s leadership and addressed the World Governments Summit in Dubai. Reaching out to the diaspora in the Gulf countries has been a cornerstone of Modi’s latest tour. In Abu Dhabi, he inaugurated a $84 million Hindu temple – the first in the UAE capital and the fourth in the country – on land donated by the Crown Prince.

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