India seeks investments from Qatar in infra, energy sectors

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New Delhi, Dec 3 (IANS) India on Saturday sought investments from Qatar in the infrastructure and energy sectors as the two sides signed four agreements, including on visas and cyber security.

During delegation-level talks here led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his visiting Qatari counterpart Sheikh Abdullah bin Nasser bin Khalifa Al Thani, the two sides reviewed bilateral relations in depth, in particular on the follow-up of the important decisions taken during Modi’s visit to Qatar in June this year.

Sources here said the two leaders discussed cooperation in various sectors and acknowledged that the current level of trade and investment was much below potential.

“Prime Minister Modi highlighted the tremendous opportunities available for Qatari investment in India’s infrastructure and energy sectors,” a source said.

“He outlined the various measures taken by his government to open up the Indian economy and welcome FDI.”

Modi and Al Thani also identified civil aviation as a priority sector for enhancing cooperation.

According to the sources, Modi mentioned that India imported eight million tonnes of urea per year and said that a long term arrangement with Qatar for the supply of urea would be welcome.

India could also meet Qatari needs in the area of food security, he said.

On his part, the Qatari Prime Minister invited India’s participation in infrastructure and investment opportunities coming up ahead of the FIFA World Cup in that Gulf nation in 2022.

He also welcomed Indian investment in the port sector of Qatar.

“On energy cooperation, Prime Minister Modi said that we should go beyond the buyer-seller relationship to include joint ventures, joint research and development and joint exploration,” the source said.

Qatar is the largest supplier of LNG to India, accounting for 66 percent of the total imports in 2015-16.

Modi, it is learnt, said that Indian companies were ready to invest in both upstream and downstream projects in Qatar in the hydrocarbon sector.

The two leaders discussed enhancing cooperation in defence and security, in cyber security in particular, and agreed on joint action to tackle money laundering and terrorist financing.

The security situation in Iraq, Syria and Yemen also came up for discussion.

Following the delegation-level talks, four agreements were signed by the two sides.

One agreement allows holders of diplomatic, special and official passports of the two countries visa-free travel between the two countries.

A protocol on technical cooperation in cyber space and combating cyber crime was signed between the Ministry of Home Affairs of India and the Ministry of Interior of Qatar.

The protocol adds an important dimension of bilateral technical cooperation in cyberspace and combating cyber crime to the existing framework agreement in the field of security signed in November 2008.

A letter of intent was signed that allows for negotiations on an agreement on grant of e-visa to businessmen and tourists of the two countries.

A memorandum of understanding (MoU) was also signed between Supreme Committee for Delivery and Legacy of Qatar and Confederation of Indian Industry which will provide a framework for project experts for Indian companies in Qatar, including through participation in infrastructure projects in Qatar undertaken for the 2022 FIFA World Cup.

Another MoU was signed for encouraging greater collaboration and exchange in the field of national ports management.

Al Thani arrived here on Friday in what was the third exchange of high-level visits between India and the Gulf nation in less than two years.

Qatari Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani visited India in March 2015 which was followed by the visit of Modi to that Gulf nation in June 2016.

Indians form the largest expatriate community in Qatar and their positive contribution in the progress and development of their host country is well recognised. There are over expatriate 630,000 Indians in Qatar.

–IANS

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