New Delhi: After completing his UAE visit, Prime Minister Narendra Modi will travel to Doha on February 14 to hold bilateral meetings with the Emir of Qatar, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, there, the Ministry of External Affairs announced on Monday.
This visit assumes significance as it comes after a diplomatic victory of India following the release of eight Indian Navy personnel who were detained in Qatar for nearly 18 months since August 2022.
"From UAE after completing his visit on February 14, Prime Minister Narendra Modi will travel to Doha, Qatar on February 14 afternoon. During the visit, PM Modi will hold bilateral meetings with Emir of Qatar Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani and other high dignitaries in Qatar," Foreign Secretary Vinay Mohan Kwatra said while addressing a special briefing on PM Modi's visit to UAE.
The Foreign Secretary expressed that PM Modi's visit would provide an opportunity for leaders to discuss ways to further deepen and strengthen the multifaceted partnership.
"PM Modi's visit to Qatar will provide an opportunity for the top leadership of the two countries to discuss ways to further deepen and strengthen our multifaceted partnership as well as exchange views on different regional and international issues of mutual importance," Kwatra noted.
Kwatra highlighted that this will be the second visit of PM Modi to Qatar, with the last one taking place in June 2016.
Emphasising the growing ties between India and Qatar, the Foreign Secretary mentioned high-level visits to Qatar.
"There have been several high-level exchanges between India and Qatar in recent years. You would recall the visit of Vice President Jagdeep Dhankhar to Doha in November 2022 as also the visit of then Vice President Venkaiah Naidu in June 2022. External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar has also undertaken multiple visits to Qatar in last 3 to 4 years," the Foreign Secretary also said.
The relationship between the two countries has grown multifaceted with robust energy partnership and collaboration in culture, education, and security. The bilateral trade currently stands at approximately USD 20 billion, with Qatar emerging as a significant investor across various sectors in India.
"The bilateral relationship between India and Qatar that has been steadily growing includes a comprehensive span, including political ties, trade and investment linkages, a strong energy partnership and ties in the field of culture, education and security," he said, adding, "Strong bilateral trade between India and Qatar currently stands at roughly USD 20 bn and Qatar is also a significant investor in India across the whole range of economies."
Specifically mentioning the recent agreement between QatarEnergy and India's Petronet for the supply of 7.5 million metric tons per year of LNG from Qatar to India for a duration of 20 years, starting in 2028, Kwatra said, " You'd be aware following the recently concluded India Energy Week, QatarEnergy and India's Petronet had signed an agreement for the supply of 7.5 million metric tons per year of LNG from Qatrar to India for 20 years starting 2028".
The large Indian diaspora in Qatar, numbering around 840,000, was underscored as a vital connection between the two nations.
In a major diplomatic triumph for India, eight veterans of the Indian Navy who were sentenced to death in Qatar, were released by Doha on Monday.
The capital punishment was commuted to an extended prison term earlier following diplomatic intervention by New Delhi.
Amid desperate pleas by the anxious kin of the Navy veterans to secure their release and safe passage back to their homeland, the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) had assured that it would mobilise all diplomatic channels and arrange legal assistance to bring them back.
Of the eight former Navy officers, seven have already returned to India, the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) informed through an official statement earlier on Monday.
The Union government released an official statement welcoming the decision to set the veteran officers free, saying, "The Government of India welcomes the release of eight Indian nationals working for the Dahra Global company who were detained in Qatar. Seven out of the eight of them have returned to India. We appreciate the decision by the Amir of the State of Qatar to enable the release and home-coming of these nationals."
The eight Indian nationals were imprisoned in Qatar since October 2022 and were accused of allegedly spying on a submarine programme. The retired naval personnel were sentenced to death by a Qatar court on charges that have not yet been made public officially.
Earlier, Prime Minister Narendra Modi met Qatar's Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani on the sidelines of the COP28 summit in Dubai and discussed bilateral partnership and the "well-being of the Indian community" living in Qatar.