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India, Qatar ink six pacts, discuss energy during emir’s visit


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New Delhi, March 25 (IANS) India and Qatar inked six agreements, including on transfer of sentenced prisoners, as visiting Emir of Qatar Tamim Bin Hamad Al Thani held talks with Prime Minister Narendra Modi on energy, investment and people-to-people ties on Wednesday.

The emir, who is here on a two-day visit, was accorded a ceremonial reception in the forecourt of Rashtrapati Bhavan in the morning.

External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj called on him, after which he held talks with Modi at Hyderabad House.

Besides bilateral ties, the discussion between the two sides also focused on the latest developments in the Middle East region.

Qatar, the largest source of India’s LNG imports at 86 percent, is keen on boosting energy ties.

Bilateral trade stands at $16 billion, heavily weighted in favour of Qatar due to the LNG imports.

Qatar has expressed interest in Modi’s ‘Make in India’ initiative. India is also seeking to invest in major infrastructure projects in the Gulf country which is hosting the FIFA World Cup in 2022.

The six agreements, besides transfer of sentenced prisoners, were: an MoU for cooperation in information and communication technology, an MoU between the ministry of earth sciences and Qatar Meteorological Department for scientific and technical cooperation, an MoU between the Diplomatic Institute of the ministry of foreign affairs of Qatar and the Foreign Service Institute of India’s external affairs ministry, an MoU for cooperation in the field of radio and television and an agreement for mutual cooperation and exchange of news.

External affairs ministry spokesperson Syed Akbaruddin tweeted: "India-Qatar discuss energy, investment & people to people ties. 6 agreements signed."

Under the agreement on transfer of sentenced prisoners, Indian prisoners convicted in Qatar can be brought to India to serve the remaining part of their sentence.

Similarly, Qatari citizens convicted in India can be sent to their home country to serve their sentence.

This agreement would enable the sentenced people to be near their families and would help in their social rehabilitation, said an official statement.

The emir is accompanied by a high-level delegation comprising ministers, senior officials and captains of industry. He arrived here on Tuesday night from Colombo. He was earlier in Islamabad.

The former emir, Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani, had visited India thrice — in 1999, 2005 and 2012. India’s then prime minister Manmohan Singh had visited Qatar in November 2008.

Around 600,000 Indian nationals work in Qatar, comprising the largest expatriate community in the country.

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