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Business News/ Money / PM Modi to visit Qatar, strengthening ties amid release of Indian naval veterans

PM Modi to visit Qatar, strengthening ties amid release of Indian naval veterans

The Qatar visit will cover comprehensive bilateral partnership and regional matters.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi. (File Photo: Hindustan Times)Premium
Prime Minister Narendra Modi. (File Photo: Hindustan Times)

New Delhi: Prime Minister Narendra Modi will travel to Doha, Qatar, on Wednesday after concluding his visit to the United Arab Emirates (UAE), foreign secretary Vinay Mohan Kwatra said at a press conference on Monday.

PM Modi's agenda in Qatar includes meetings with Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, the Emir of Qatar, among other senior officials. This visit marks Modi's first to Qatar since 2016.

“The bilateral relationship between India and Qatar that has been steadily growing includes a comprehensive span, including political ties, trade and investment linkages, our strong energy partnership and ties in the field of culture, education and security," Kwatra said, adding that Qatar is a major investor in India and the two countries boast a bilateral trade of around $20 billion.

The visit's announcement coincides with Qatar's release of eight Indian navy veterans, previously sentenced to death by a Qatari court in 2023 on charges of espionage. They were employed by the Al Dahra company.

“We deeply appreciate the decision of the Qatari government and the Emir to release them. We are happy to have seven of those Indian nationals back. The eighth Indian has also been released and we continue to work with the Qatar government to see how quickly his return to India would be possible," Kwatra said. 

He said PM Modi “personally supervised all developments" in the case.

PM Modi met with Qatar’s Emir in December 2023 on the sidelines of the CoP28 climate summit in Dubai. Shortly after, the death sentences of the navy veterans were revoked.

The Qatar visit will cover comprehensive bilateral partnership and regional matters.

Qatar, a crucial supplier of liquefied natural gas (LNG) to India, recently signed a $78 billion extension with India's Petronet LNG to continue LNG supplies until 2048, building on a 25-year agreement due to expire in 2028. 

With an Indian diaspora of about 840,000, Qatar holds a significant place for India.

"It's very difficult to say what Qatar's calculation is on this. One factor is certainly that Doha doesn't want to hurt bilateral ties beyond a point. India is a strong economy with which Qatar wants to be on good terms with. For India, issues such as investments made by Qatar's sovereign wealth fund and India's energy security were important. So, overall, it was important that bilateral ties not tank because of the case of the imprisoned naval veterans. It's a win-win on both sides," said Kabir Taneja, fellow at the Observer Research Foundation, a New Delhi-based think tank.

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Published: 12 Feb 2024, 05:25 PM IST
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