India, Qatar enjoy historically close relations: PM Modi on Doha visit

India and Qatar enjoy historically close and friendly relations and the multi-faceted ties between the two countries have continued to deepen in recent years, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said on Tuesday ahead of his visit to Doha.

Modi said that he was looking forward to meeting Amir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, under whose leadership Qatar continues to witness tremendous growth and transformation. The prime minister said this in a departure statement ahead of his two-nation visit to the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Qatar. Modi is scheduled to travel to Doha on Wednesday afternoon after concluding his two-day visit to the UAE.

The announcement on Modi`s visit to the Qatari capital came on Monday hours after seven out of eight jailed former Indian Navy personnel returned home, nearly three-and-half months after a Qatari court handed them a death sentence that was subsequently commuted to jail terms ranging from three to 25 years.

Qatar has released all the eight Indians. The former Indian Navy personnel apparently faced charges of espionage, but neither the Qatari authorities nor New Delhi made the charges against them public.

Modi`s visit to Qatar on February 14-15 will be his second trip to that country as the prime minister.

“India and Qatar enjoy historically close and friendly relations,” Modi said. “In recent years, our multi-faceted 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,” he said.

The prime minister said the presence of over 800,000 strong Indian community in Doha is a “testament to our strong people-to-people ties.”

Besides holding talks with the Amir, Modi is scheduled to meet other high dignitaries in Qatar as well. 

In his statement, Modi said he is looking forward to further advancing India`s comprehensive strategic partnership with the UAE. “Over the last nine years, our cooperation with UAE in diverse sectors such as trade and investment, defence and security, food and energy security and education has grown manifold. Our cultural and people-to-people connect is stronger than ever,” he said.

“I look forward to meeting Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, the President of the UAE, in Abu Dhabi and hold wide-ranging discussions on taking forward our Comprehensive Strategic Partnership,” Modi said.

Boosting cooperation in areas of energy, ports, fintech, digital infrastructure, railways and investment flows are set to be the focus of talks between the two leaders on Tuesday. The two sides are likely to ink a number of agreements to shore up cooperation in several key areas.

In Abu Dhabi, Modi will also inaugurate the first Hindu temple in the city. “I will also inaugurate the first Hindu Mandir in Abu Dhabi. The BAPS temple will be an enduring tribute to the values of harmony, peace and tolerance, which both India and the UAE share,” the prime minister said. “I will address the members of the Indian community from all the Emirates of the UAE at a special event in Abu Dhabi,” he said.

Modi is also set to meet Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, the vice president, prime minister and defence minister of the UAE. “I will be addressing the gathering of world leaders at the World Government Summit in Dubai on February 14,” Modi said.

My discussions with Prime Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid on the margins of the summit will focus on strengthening our multi-faceted ties with Dubai, he added.

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