Jaishankar calls on Qatar’s Amir, PM; discusses economic and security ties

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Doha, Dec 28 (PTI) External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar on Monday met Qatar’s Amir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani as well as other top leaders of the Gulf country and discussed strengthening the economic and security cooperation between the two countries.

Jaishankar, who arrived in Doha on Sunday on his maiden two-day visit to Qatar, also handed over a personal message from Prime Minister Narendra Modi to Sheikh Tamim inviting him to visit India and thanking Qatar for taking care of the Indian community during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Sheikh Tamim accepted the invitation to visit India at an early date. He also recalled his telephone conversation with Prime Minister Modi during which both leaders had decided to set up Task Forces on investment and energy. Both sides are in the process of implementing this decision, the Ministry of External Affairs said in a statement.

'Called on H.H. @TamimBinHamad, Amir of Qatar. Handed over a personal communication from PM @narendramodi. Deeply value H.H.'s warm sentiments for Indian community. Impressed by his vision of taking our partnership to a new level,” Jaishankar tweeted.

Jaishankar also called on Amir's father Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al-Thani, who handed over power to his son Sheikh Tamim in 2013.

'Warm meeting with H.H Father Amir Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al-Thani. His leadership continues to guide India-Qatar relations. Appreciated his insights on global and regional developments,: the minister tweeted.

On his part, Sheikh Hamad appreciated the contribution of the Indian community in Qatar and recalled his visits to India. The minister thanked him for his continued guidance on India-Qatar relations.

He met Prime Minister Khalid bin Khalifa bin Abdulaziz Al Thani, who is also the Gulf country’s Interior Minister, and discussed strengthening bilateral economic and security cooperation.

'Thanked him for the care given to the Indian community in Qatar during COVID times. Discussed strengthening our bilateral economic and security cooperation,' Jaishankar tweeted.

He conveyed the 'special gratitude' to Qatar for taking care of Indians during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The minister also held detailed discussions with Deputy PM and Foreign Minister Sheikh Mohammad bin Abdulrahman bin Jassim Al Thani on bilateral as well as regional and international issues of mutual interest.

'Both Ministers discussed ways to strengthen the multifaceted bilateral relationship in areas such as energy, trade, investment, food processing, healthcare, education, culture, defence and security. They agreed to maintain regular consultations and coordination on all issues of mutual interest at multilateral fora,' the statement said.

Jaishankar extended an invitation to his Qatari counterpart to visit India for the first Joint Commission Meeting in 2021.

India and Qatar have maintained close high-level contacts during the pandemic.

On Sunday, Jaishankar met business leaders in Qatar and highlighted the investment opportunities in India while appreciating the commitment for strengthening bilateral partnerships.

Jaishankar visited the Qatar National Museum on the first day of his visit before virtually interacting with the Indian community in the country. 'He appreciated the contribution of the (Indian) community in meeting the COVID-19 challenge,' the statement said.

The minister also visited the Ahmed bin Ali FIFA Stadium that has been constructed by Indian company L&T along with Qatari partners Al Balagh group.

'Visited Ahmed bin Ali Stadium at Al Rayyan. Congratulate Larsen & Toubro and their Qatari partners on an impressive project. Has enhanced India's reputation for quality and delivery. Best wishes to Qatar for FIFA 2022,' Jaishankar tweeted.

'Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the Amir of the State of Qatar Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani have spoken thrice on telephone in the past few months. External Affairs Minister and other cabinet ministers have also spoken with their Qatari counterparts,' the MEA said in New Delhi on Saturday.

Qatar is home to over seven lakh Indians. The bilateral trade was USD 10.95 billion in 2019-20, according to official data.

'Both sides remain committed to intensify bilateral cooperation in various fields including energy and investments. India and Qatar have also worked together to face the COVID-19 pandemic and coordinated smooth operation of flights under an air bubble arrangement,' the MEA added. PTI CPS ZH ZH ZH