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PM Modi to visit Qatar after UAE tour

Announcement of visit came a day after Qatar released eight jailed former Indian naval personnel

PM Modi to visit Qatar after UAE tour
[Source photo: X/MEAIndia]

Prime Minister Narendra Modi will travel to Qatar on 14 February after concluding his two-day visit to the United Arab Emirates, the ministry of external affairs said. 

The announcement about Modi’s visit to Doha came a day after Qatari authorities released eight jailed former Indian naval personnel, seven of whom returned home to India on Monday. 

This will be Modi’s second visit to Qatar. He last visited the Gulf nation in June 2016. 

The prime minister will hold bilateral meetings with the Amir of Qatar, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, and other dignitaries, foreign secretary Vinay Kwatra said. 

“I am looking forward to meeting His Highness Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, the Amir, under whose leadership Qatar continues to witness tremendous growth and transformation. I am also looking forward to meeting other high dignitaries in Qatar,” Modi said ahead of his visit. 

“India and Qatar enjoy historically close and friendly relations. In recent years, our multifaceted ties have continued to deepen in all spheres including high-level political exchanges, growing trade and investment between two countries, strengthening of our energy partnership, and cooperation in culture and education. The presence of over 800,000 strong Indian community in Doha is a testament to our strong people-to-people ties,” he added. 

Kwatra recalled that there have been several high-level exchanges between India and Qatar in recent years. 

“The bilateral relationship between India and Qatar, which has been steadily growing, includes a comprehensive span, including political ties, trade and investment linkages, our strong energy partnership, and ties in the fields of culture, education, and security,” he said. 

“The prime minister’s visit to Qatar will provide an opportunity for the top leadership of the two countries to discuss ways to further deepen and strengthen our multifaceted partnership, as well as exchange views on different regional and international issues of mutual importance,” Kwatra added. 

Bilateral trade between India and Qatar currently stands at roughly $20 billion. Qatar has invested across various in India through its sovereign wealth fund. 

Earlier this month at the India Energy Week, India’s Petronet LNG signed a $78 billion deal with QatarEnergy to extend the purchase of 7.5 million tons per year of LNG till 2048. 

Qatar also hosts a strong Indian community, with over  840,000 Indians living and working in the Arab nation. 

On the release of former Indian Navy personnel, Kwatra said the Indian government was grateful for their return. 

“We are extremely gratified about it and deeply appreciate the gesture of the Amir of Qatar for the release and continue to work on the return of the 8th Indian national,” he said. 

The foreign secretary said Modi constantly supervised all developments in this case and never “shied away from any initiatives that would ensure the return of Indian nationals back to home”. 

Eight former Indian Navy personnel were jailed in Qatar for “espionage” and sentenced to death last year. The Court of Appeal on 28 December commuted the capital punishment and sentenced them to jail terms for varying durations.

Modi visit to UAE

Modi will arrive in the UAE on his seventh visit as prime minister on Tuesday. He will hold a bilateral meeting with UAE President Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, address a community event in Abu Dhabi, participate in the World Government Summit 2024 as a guest of honor, and deliver a special keynote address on the closing day of the summit. 

A key highlight of the visit would be the inauguration of the BAPS Hindu Mandir in Abu Dhabi on 14 February. The foundation stone of the temple was laid in 2018 during Modi’s visit to the UAE.

The UAE hosts about 3.5 million Indians.

“India and UAE enjoy warm, close, and multifaceted relations underpinned by strong political, cultural, and economic linkages, and of course driven by the vision and personal guidance of the leadership of the two countries. Following the landmark visit of the Prime Minister to UAE in 2015, the bilateral relations between India and the UAE have undergone a complete transformation,” Kwatra said.

The relationship was elevated to a comprehensive strategic partnership level in 2017.

“Over the past nine years, our cooperation with the UAE in diverse sectors such as trade and investment, defense and security, food and energy security, and education has grown manifold. Our cultural and people-to-people connect is stronger than ever,” Prime Minister Modi said ahead of his departure for the UAE. 

“I look forward to meeting His Highness Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, the President of UAE, in Abu Dhabi and hold wide-ranging discussions on taking forward our Comprehensive Strategic Partnership. I had the privilege of hosting His Highness recently in Gujarat, where he was the Chief Guest at the Vibrant Gujarat Global Summit 2024,” he added. 

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