Qatari Prime Minister Sheikh Abdullah bin Nasser bin Khalifa Al Thani, who landed in India on Friday, held talks with Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Saturday afternoon. The two leaders discussed bilateral, regional and multilateral issues of common interest to consolidate ties.
“The leaders witness exchange of four agreements in the fields of visas, cyberspace and investments…Additionally, another MoU aimed at encouraging greater collab’n & exchange in field of national ports management of #IndiaQatar also signed” tweeted MEA Spokesperson Vikas Swarup after the delegation level talks between India and Qatar.
The two leaders discussed ways to enhance cooperation in defence and security, in particular in cyber security and agreed on joint action to tackle money laundering and terrorist financing.
PM Modi said the visit of the Qatari Prime Minister showed the growing bilateral ties with Qatar, which India has always regarded as a “valued partner”.
The leaders also acknowledged that the current level of trade and investment was much below potential, External Affairs Ministry Spokesperson Vikas Swarup said, adding Modi highlighted the tremendous opportunities available for Qatari investment in India’s infrastructure and energy sectors.
On energy cooperation, Prime Minister Modi said, “We should go beyond the buyer-seller relationship to include Joint Ventures, Joint Research and Development and Joint Exploration…Indian companies were ready to invest in both upstream and downstream projects in Qatar in the hydrocarbon sector.”
Prime Minister Modi also expressed India’s keenness to invest in hydrocarbon projects in Qatar. He recalled that India imports eight million tonnes of urea per year and said “we would welcome a long-term arrangement with Qatar for the supply of urea”, Swarup said.
It was also conveyed that India could also meet Qatari needs in the area of food security, Swarup added.
On his part, the Qatari leader invited India’s participation in infrastructure and investment opportunities coming up in the wake of Qatar hosting the FIFA World Cup in 2022. He also welcomed Indian investment in the port sector of Qatar.
This is the first visit of Sheikh Abdullah to India and the third high-level bilateral engagement between the two countries in the past two years, which underlines India’s growing ties with Qatar.
The visit of Qatari Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani to India in March 2015 was followed by visit of Prime Minister Modi to Qatar this June.
Not only an important trading partner for India in the Gulf region, Qatar is also the largest supplier of LNG to it, accounting for 66 per cent of the total imports in 2015-16.
Indians form the largest expatriate community in Qatar and their positive contribution in the progress and development of their host country is well recognised. And there are over 630,000 Indian nationals working in Qatar.
(With inputs from PTI)