India invites Qatar’s ruler Sheikh Tamim

Modi thanks Qatar for releasing eight Indian Navy veterans on death row; says India is looking forward to scaling up bilateral ties in key sectors

Updated - February 15, 2024 10:45 pm IST

Published - February 15, 2024 03:43 pm IST - Doha

Prime Minister Narendra Modi during a bilateral meeting with the Emir of Qatar, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, in Doha, on February 15, 2024

Prime Minister Narendra Modi during a bilateral meeting with the Emir of Qatar, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, in Doha, on February 15, 2024 | Photo Credit: PTI

Prime Minister Narendra Modi has invited the ruler of Qatar, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani, to visit India. The invitation was extended during their interaction in Qatar earlier on Thursday.

The visit from the Indian leader came days after Qatar’s legal authorities freed eight Indian Navy veterans, who were accused in an alleged espionage case and given death sentence by a lower court in October 2023.

“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,” said Mr. Modi at the end of the visit, which came after a phase of tense relations marked by the arrest of the former Navy personnel.

Briefing the media after the bilateral engagements, Foreign Secretary Vinay Mohan Kwatra expressed India’s gratitude for the release of the eight individuals, seven of whom were flown back home earlier this week.

“The Prime Minister thanked His Highness, the Amir, for his support for the welfare of the Indian community and, in this regard, expressed his deep appreciation to His Highness, the Amir, for the release of eight Indian nationals of Al-Dahra company. We are extremely gratified to see them back in India,” said Mr. Kwatra in a press release from the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA).

Mr. Modi flew to Qatar on February 14 after his two-day visit to the United Arab Emirates. On reaching Qatar, he met Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman bin Jasim Al-Thani. A readout from the MEA said the two leaders discussed the latest situation in the West Asia region and emphasised the “importance of upholding peace and stability in the region and beyond”.

Mr. Modi also met Emir Hamad Bin Khalifa Al Thani, father of the Qatar ruler, in Doha. Father Emir appreciated the role of the Indian community in Qatar’s development and nourishing the bilateral partnership, the MEA said.

Qatar is an important energy supplier to India and despite the crisis over the issue of the Navy veterans, the two sides sealed a deal on supply of liquefied natural gas to India that will extend an existing agreement to 2048. The agreement worth around $78 billion is being considered one of the largest in India’s energy relations with Qatar.

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