Prime Minister Narendra Modi will pay a two-day visit to energy-rich Qatar from June 4, in continuation of efforts to recast India’s ties with the strategically important Gulf region.
It will be the first visit by an Indian Prime Minister to Qatar in the last eight years. The then Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had visited Doha in 2008. Modi will hold extensive talks with Emir of Qatar Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani on a range of bilateral issues including ways to further boost economic ties, particularly in the hydrocarbon sector. They will also deliberate on regional and international issues of mutual concern.
Qatar is an important trading partner for India in the Gulf region with bilateral trade in 2014 15 exceeding USD 15 billion.
It is India’s largest supplier of LNG requirements, accounting for 65 per cent of the country’s total imports in 2015-16. It is also one of India’s key sources of crude oil. Qatar is hosting the FIFA World Cup in 2022 and a number of Indian companies are involved in construction work in that country.
The NDA government has been focusing on improving ties with the countries of the Gulf region which is crucial for India’s energy security. The Prime Minister had already visited United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia and will visit Iran from May 22-23.
“India’s historical and close relations with Qatar are marked by mutually beneficial commercial exchanges and extensive people-to-people contacts,” External Affairs Ministry Spokesperson Vikas Swarup said while announcing the visit.
There has been regular exchange of high-level bilateral visits in the recent past. The Emir of Qatar had visited India in March 2015. Previously, the then Emir of Qatar had visited India in 1999, 2005 and 2012.
Over 6,30,000 Indian nationals form the largest expatriate community in Qatar.
“Their positive contribution in the progress and development of their host country is well recognised,” said Swarup.
The NDA government has been focusing on improving ties with the countries of the Gulf region. The Prime Minister has already visited United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia and will visit Iran from May 22-23.