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PM Modi visits Doha: Economic cooperation high on agenda

Doha: Prime Minister Narendra Modi arrived in Doha on Saturday on a two-day visit which is focused on giving a new push to the economic ties, particularly in the hydrocarbon sector, between India and the energy-rich Qatar.

Modi will hold detailed talks with Emir of Qatar Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani and address the business community of Qatar, a country which is India’s largest supplier of LNG requirements, accounting for 65 percent of the country’s
total imports last financial year.

On his arrival, Modi was warmly received by Qatar’s Prime Minister Abdullah bin Nasser bin Khalifa Al Thani at the

Prime Minister Narendra Modi  with his Qatar counterpart Emir of Qatar Abdullah bin Nasser bin Khalifa Al Thani during arrival at Doha airport on Saturday.   PTIPrime Minister Narendra Modi  with his Qatar counterpart Emir of Qatar Abdullah bin Nasser bin Khalifa Al Thani during arrival at Doha airport on Saturday.   PTI

Prime Minister Narendra Modi with his Qatar counterpart Emir of Qatar Abdullah bin Nasser bin Khalifa Al Thani during arrival at Doha airport on Saturday. PTI

“Reached Doha. India attaches great priority to strong ties with Qatar & my visit seeks to expand bilateral ties between our nations,” he tweeted on his arrival.

“I look forward to the various programs that will enhance economic & people-to-people ties between India & Qatar,” he said in another tweet.

He also tweeted some messages in Arabic language.

Modi will hold detailed talks with the Emir of Qatar on Sunday on a range of bilateral issues as well as regional and international matters of mutual concern.

The discussions are expected to focus on energy but various other aspects of the relationship will also come up during the talks, sources said in Doha on Saturday.

Qatar is an important trading partner for India in the Gulf region with bilateral trade in 2014-15 exceeding USD 15
billion. Qatar is also one of India’s key sources of crude oil.

At present, a number of Indian companies are involved in construction activities related to the FIFA World Cup being hosted by Qater in 2022.

Modi, who is in Doha on a two-day trip, will also address the Indian workers while visiting a labour camp. The Indian diaspora of over 6,30,000 form the largest expatriate community in Qatar and constitutes a substantial percentage of the country’s population.

The Prime Minister has been focusing on improving ties with the Gulf region which is crucial for India’s energy security. He has already visited United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia.

Modi is the first Indian Prime Minister to visit Qatar in the last eight years. The then Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had visited Doha in 2008.

“India’s historical and close relations with Qatar are marked by mutually beneficial commercial exchanges and extensive people-to-people contacts,” External Affairs Ministry Spokesperson Vikas Swarup had said ahead of the visit.

There has been regular exchange of high-level bilateral visits in the recent past. The Emir of Qatar had visited India in March 2015. Previously, the then Emir of Qatar had visited India in 1999, 2005 and 2012.

From Doha, the Prime Minister will travel to Switzerland and then to the USA.

Nawaz Sharif bypasses ISI, asks IB to probe

Pakistan prime minister Nawaz Sharif, on Friday, met his top brass – the second such meeting in last two days, since his return from Colombo – to discuss the Pathankot incident, and directed his security establishment to cooperate with India in unearthing terror links involved.Sources in Islamabad told dna over phone that the Pakistan PM, who recently hosted his Indian counterpart Narendra Modi in Lahore, also handed over the probe and all leads provided by India to Intelligence Bureau (IB) chief Aftab Sultan, who works directly under him, instead of the normal practice of passing them on to the Inter-Services Intelligence Agency (ISI), which works under the army.The extra-ordinary step is perceived in diplomatic corridors here as Sharif’s desire to salvage the talks with India. Officials in New Delhi, while terming it “a rare, positive encouraging signal… and a deviation from past record of remaining in denial mode”, however, said a “credible” step on the actionable intelligence was still awaited.Stating that this alone will help build trust, “a necessity for kickstarting a genuine dialogue process”, an official said: “At the very minimum, we expect the terror handlers to be arrested and those behind the attack tracked down.”According to sources in Pakistan, Sharif has directed NSA Nasser Khan Janjua to remain in contact with his Indian counterpart Ajit Doval for gathering additional information. This happened after an official, at the meeting, said that information provided by India was “not enough”, as it was so far limited to telephone numbers,The meeting was attended by chief of army staff General Raheel Sharif, DG ISI Lt-Gen Rizwan Akhtar, interior minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan, advisor to PM on foreign affairs Sartaj Aziz, national security advisor Lt-Gen (retd) Nasser Janjua, finance minister Ishaq Dar, foreign secretary and DG military operations.During the meeting, Sharif said goodwill generated by the recent high-level contacts should not be allowed to go haywire. He hoped the two countries would remain committed to a sustained, meaningful and comprehensive dialogue process.”We would like to have solid information to build a case for action. Otherwise, the suspects will walk out free on bail,” a Sharif aide told dna. He further said that strong action would be taken if probe finds anyone guilty.Meanwhile, investigators in Pathankot have found painkillers made in Lahore and syringes made in Karachi in one of the buildings at the airbase where the terrorists were holed up. The terrorists also carried performance-enhancing drugs, bandages, cotton, vials of perfume and dates. “The details will be provided to Pakistan soon,” an official told dna.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>