India and Qatar, the energy-rich Gulf state, have taken a set of important steps to bolster their economic and security partnership as the two countries signed six agreements, including one on the transfer of sentenced prisoners.
The pacts were signed after full-spectrum talks between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Emir of Qatar Tamim Bin Hamad Al Thani in New Delhi on March 25.
The six agreements, besides the transfer of sentenced prisoners, included: an MoU for Cooperation in the field of Information and Communication Technology; an MoU between the ministry of earth sciences and Qatar Meteorological Department for Scientific and Technical cooperation; an MoU between Diplomatic Institute of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Qatar and Foreign Service Institute of the ministry of external affairs; an MoU for cooperation in the field of Radio and Television; and an agreement for Mutual Cooperation and Exchange of News.
The pact on the transfer of sentenced prisoners envisages the repatriation of Indian prisoners convicted in Qatar to India to serve the remaining part of their sentence. Similarly, Qatari citizens convicted in India can be sent to their home country to serve their sentence. This agreement would enable the sentenced persons to be near their families and would help in the process of their social rehabilitation, said an official statement.
Boosting economic partnership figured high on the agenda. “Opening new doors for investment. Minister @SushmaSwaraj meets Emir of Qatar,” tweeted Syed Akbaruddin, the spokesperson of India’s external affairs ministry.
Ahead of his visit, the Emir of Qatar betted big on the India opportunity.
Expressing interest in Modi’s ‘Made in India’ initiative, the 34-year-old Sandhurst-trained Emir, who took over the reins of the world’s richest country (by per capita GDP) from his father in 2013, said, “I know that the new government is taking a number of initiatives, especially in business and investment, which is very interesting and encouraging from our point of view. We trust the Indian economy. So we will invest in India.”
The emir holds sizeable stakes in blue-chip corporations such as Harrods, Barclays and Sainsbury in addition to the famed Paris Saint-Germaine Football Club. Though controversially, he also won the right to host the 2022 Football World Cup.
Speaking on Qatar’s relationship with India, he said, “Our relationship isn’t confined to gas. We have important historical ties with India. We have 631,000 Indian working in Qatar. But there is a gap to fill. My aim is to sit with my Indian friends and say we must go beyond good relations.”
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