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  India   All India  16 Feb 2024  PM thanks Emir for freeing 8 prisoners

PM thanks Emir for freeing 8 prisoners

THE ASIAN AGE. | SRIDHAR KUMARASWAMI
Published : Feb 16, 2024, 1:46 am IST
Updated : Feb 16, 2024, 1:46 am IST

Expresses ‘deep appreciation’, invites him to India

Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani (R) welcomes Prime Minister Narendra Modi during a ceremony in Doha on February 15, 2024. (AFP)
 Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani (R) welcomes Prime Minister Narendra Modi during a ceremony in Doha on February 15, 2024. (AFP)

New Delhi: Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Thursday thanked the Emir of Qatar, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, at the Emiri Palace in Doha, expressing his “deep appreciation” for the Emir’s decision earlier this week to release eight Indian nationals and former naval personnel who were sentenced to varying prison terms on reported charges of espionage.

“We are extremely gratified,” foreign secretary Vinay Kwatra reiterated at an MEA briefing in Doha, on the release of these eight Indians who were initially sentenced to death in October last year, which was later commuted to prison terms two months later. Mr Modi also invited the Qatar Emir to visit India and “conveyed India’s commitment to further expanding and deepening bilateral cooperation with Qatar”.

The Prime Minister, in whose honour a banquet lunch was hosted by the Emir, thanked him for taking care of the eight lakh-strong Indian community in Qatar. The two leaders held bilateral talks, with both nations set to expand their energy, trade and investment partnership with a strategic perspective beyond a “buyer-seller” relationship. Qatar’s leadership told Mr Modi both countries “share an unwavering bond, epitomised by mutual trust and cooperation”.

Qatar is one of the biggest suppliers of natural gas to India. The foreign secretary reiterated that just last week the two nations had signed a deal for supply of 7.5 MMTPA (million metric tonnes per annum) of LNG (Liquefied Natural Gas) from Qatar to India for a period of 20 years from 2028, adding that this “partnership goes back to (the year) 1999”. He added while no specific pacts were signed on Wednesday, the visit was “very successful” and would “lay the basis for deeper ties” and “consolidating the wide-ranging partnership” between the two nations. The foreign secretary said both nations are also looking at strengthening ties in green energy, building supply chains and use of technology and innovation in the energy sector. Bilateral trade between the two nations currently stands at about $20 billion.

“India and Qatar ties are growing stronger and stronger. Had a wonderful meeting … We reviewed the full range of India-Qatar relations and discussed ways to deepen cooperation across various sectors. Our nations also look forward to collaborating in futuristic sectors that will benefit our planet. My visit to Qatar has added new vigour to the India-Qatar friendship. India looks forward to scaling up cooperation in key sectors relating to trade, investment, technology and culture. I thank the government and people of Qatar for their hospitality,” Mr Modi said, on his meeting with Qatar’s Emir.

“The Prime Minister was given a ceremonial welcome at the Emiri Palace on arrival. Thereafter, both sides held delegation-level and restricted talks. The discussions covered a wide array of topics including economic cooperation, investments, energy partnership, space collaboration, urban infrastructure, cultural bonds and people-to-people ties. The two leaders also exchanged views on regional and global issues. … The Emir reciprocated the Prime Minister’s sentiments and expressed appreciation for India's role as a valued partner in the Gulf region. The Emir also appreciated the contributions of the vibrant Indian community in Qatar’s development and their enthusiastic participation in various international events held in Qatar,” New Delhi said.

In addition, Mr Modi also met “Father Emir” Hamad Bin Khalifa Al Thani, the father of the current ruler. “The Prime Minister congratulated the Father Emir on his visionary leadership that paved the way for Qatar’s development over the past decades. The two leaders held discussions on India-Qatar relations. The Prime Minister conveyed his appreciation for the insightful observations of the Father Emir on regional and global developments. The Father Emir affirmed that India and Qatar share an unwavering bond, epitomised by mutual trust and cooperation. He also appreciated the role of Indian community in Qatar’s development and in nourishing the bilateral partnership,” New Delhi added.

Mr Modi had earlier arrived in Doha from Abu Dhabi late on Wednesday evening (early Thursday morning IST) and was received by Qatar’s state minister for foreign affairs Soltan bin Saad Al-Muraikhi at the airport. He then immediately met Qatar’s PM Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani, who is also the foreign minster, for talks during which the two leaders had “exchanged views on expanding bilateral cooperation in sectors such as trade, investment, energy, finance, and technology”. They had also “discussed recent regional developments in West Asia and emphasised the importance of upholding peace and stability in the region and beyond”. After these talks, Mr Modi had then attended a dinner hosted in his honour by the Qatari PM.

Tags: narendra modi, india-qatar ties, sheikh tamim bin hamad al thani, emir of qatar
Location: India, Delhi