India, Qatar relations historically close: PM

Bilateral investment treaty inked to boost ties

NEW DELHI:  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 NarendraModi said on Tuesday ahead of his visit to Doha.

Modi said 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.

Meanwhile, Prime Minister NarendraModi held wide-ranging talks with the UAE’s President Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan during which they reviewed the strategic partnership, discussed new areas of cooperation and witnessed the signing of several agreements, including a bilateral investment treaty.

In a special and warm gesture, Modi was received at the airport by President Mohamed bin Zayed. The two leaders hugged each other. He was later given a guard of honour.

“Immensely grateful to my brother, HH @MohamedBinZayed for taking the time to receive me at Abu Dhabi airport,” Modi posted on X.

The two leaders held one-on-one and delegation-level talks soon after Modi landed here.

They reviewed the bilateral partnership and discussed new areas of cooperation.

They welcomed the deepening of the Comprehensive Strategic Partnership across sectors, including trade and investment, digital infrastructure, fintech, energy, infrastructure, culture and people-to-people ties. Discussions also covered regional and global issues, the Ministry of External Affairs said in a statement.

“I thank you for this grand welcome of me and my team. As you said, I feel that whenever I have come here, I have always felt that I have come to my home and family,” Prime Minister Modi said in his opening remarks at the bilateral meeting with the UAE President.

“We have met five times in the last seven months. Today, there is a mutual partnership between India and UAE in every sector,” he said.

The two leaders witnessed the exchange of eight agreements including a Bilateral Investment Treaty, MoU on cooperation in the field of electrical interconnection and trade and an Intergovernmental Framework Agreement between India and UAE on the India-Middle East Economic Corridor.

The Bilateral Investment Treaty will be a key enabler for further promoting investments in both countries. India has signed both a Bilateral Investment Treaty and a Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement with UAE, the statement said.

Other agreements include an MoU on cooperation in Digital Infrastructure Projects, a Cooperation protocol between the National Archives of the two countries, an MoU for cooperation in the field of heritage and museums, an agreement on interlinking of the instant payment platforms – UPI (India) and AANI (UAE) and an agreement on inter-linking domestic debit/credit cards – RuPay (India) with JAYWAN (UAE).

Prime Minister congratulated President Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed on the launch of UAE’s domestic card JAYWAN, which is based on the digital RuPay credit and debit card stack. The leaders witnessed a transaction made using the JAYWAN card.

The leaders also discussed the strengthening of their partnership in the energy sector.

They appreciated that in addition to the UAE being among the largest sources of crude and LPG (Liquefied petroleum gas), India is now entering into long-term contracts for LNG (Liquefied natural gas).

Modi in his opening remarks said the UAE and India are partnering with each other in every area of cooperation.

Modi, who will inaugurate the BochasanwasiShriAksharPurushottamSwaminarayanSanstha (BAPS) Mandir, the first Hindu stone temple in Abu Dhabi, on Wednesday, said: “The BAPS temple in the UAE is an example of your affinity for India.”

Prime Minister thanked President Sheikh Mohamed for his personal support and for his graciousness in granting the land for the construction of the BAPS Temple in Abu Dhabi.

Both sides noted that the BAPS Temple is a celebration of UAE-India friendship, deep-rooted cultural bonds and an embodiment of the UAE’s global commitment to harmony, tolerance and peaceful coexistence.

Modi said the construction of the BAPS temple in Abu Dhabi would not be possible without the support from the UAE’s leadership.

He also thanked him for attending the Vibrant Gujarat Global Summit in January.

He also thanked the UAE for its support for the India-Middle East-Europe Economic Corridor (IMEEC).

The corridor was announced in New Delhi during the G20 summit in September.

The IMEEC is being seen as an alternative to China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI).

The IMEEC will connect India, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Israel and Europe.

Modi said this will not only connect the region but also open the doors for economic development.

Modi also thanked the President for the grand diaspora event.

This is the third visit of the Prime Minister to the United Arab Emirates and the fifth meeting between the two leaders during the past eight months, which reflects the depth of the bilateral partnership, the Ministry of External Affairs said on X.

“Marhaba UAE! PM @narendramodi sets foot in the city of Abu Dhabi. Received with special warmth by UAE President HH @MohamedBinZayed at the airport, and accorded ceremonial welcome,” it posted on X.

“Immensely grateful to my brother, HH @MohamedBinZayed, for taking the time to receive me at Abu Dhabi airport,” Modi posted on X.

Ahead of the visit, RITES Limited signed an agreement with Abu Dhabi Ports Company and Gujarat Maritime Board with Abu Dhabi Ports Company. These would help in building port infrastructure and further enhance connectivity between the two countries, the statement said. (Agencies)

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