Global meltdown a window of opportunity for India, Qatar: PM

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Doha, Nov 10 (UNI) Prime Minister Manmohan Singh today said the current global financial crisis presents a rare window of opportunity for India and Qatar.

Addressing the Indian Community here, Dr Singh, who is the first Indian Prime Minister to visit Qatar, said, ''The investment requirements of a large emerging economy like India and the large financial surpluses of an energy rich economy like that of Qatar can be married together to create a win-win situation.Indian companies are also looking increasingly to invest in Qatar in such sectors as energy, construction, finance and information technology.'' On the economic front, Dr Singh said though the present international economic and financial situation has clouded the prospects of growth in the near term, he was confident that the long term outlook of the Indian economy remained strong and robust.

He said since India and Qatar have several complementarities, he would like to see them serving as a bridge of friendship between the two countries.

Appreciating the efforts of the Indian community in Qatar, Dr Singh said,''Indians constitute the largest expatriate community in Qatar. Numbering over 400,000, the Indian community in Qatar has earned a reputation for hardwork, diligence and great enterprise.'' ''You have excelled in every area and in whatever position you work. Your contribution to Qatar's development in widely respected,'' Dr Singh said.

He also appreciated the invaluable contribution made by the Indian community in Qatar by their annual remittances of over 700 million US dollars.

The Prime Minister also said, ''Our relations with Qatar are a part of our cultural, historical and civilisational links with the Gulf region, This is a region of vital importance to us. There is great admiration in India for the wisdom and sagacity with which His Highness Sheikh Hamad had led Qatar since its independence in 1971.

The enlightenment, openness and respect for diversity shown by the leaders of Qatar has contributed to Qatar's rapid socio-economic development and made it a model for the region.'' Dr Singh reassured the Indian community of government's deep commitment to their welfare and safety and said it was reflected in the decision to create a separate Ministry of Overseas Indian Affairs.

He said various initiatives such as Overseas Indian Community Welfare Funds, Overseas workers resource centre and overseas Indian facilitation centre will surely make an impact.

Concluding his address, Dr Singh expressed satisfaction over his visit to the Gulf.

''My visit to the Gulf has reinforced my conviction that we are indeed close neighbours and partners in progress. I was overwhelmed by the generous hospitality that was shown to me. I am particularly struck by your sense of optimism and enthusiasm, and the exceptional manner in which Indian citizens in Gulf are acquitting themselves,'' Dr Singh said.

UNI PMD AKJ RP GC1953

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