India, Qatar to work together to enhance eco, bilateral ties

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Doha, Nov 10 (UNI) India and Qatar today reached an understanding on several common issues and decided to closely work to enhance the economic and other bilateral relations between the two countries when visiting Prime Minister Manmohan Singh held an hour-long meeting with the Emir Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa al Talani.

The meeting held at Alwajaba Palace, the private residence of the Emir, was most warm and cordial and both the leaders agreed to implement several decisions for the mutual benefit of both the countries. The Emir hosted a private lunch in honour of the visiting Indian Prime Minister.

The Prime Minister's visit to this Gulf country and his talks with the Emir and other prominent leaders assume significance at a time when the world economy is facing recession.

Both the leaders reviewed the situation in each others's country.

Dr Singh, who arrived here yesterday on a two-day visit, held wide-ranging talks with Prime Minister Sheikh Hamad bin Jassim bin Jabor al-Thani which was followed by signing of two agreements on defence cooperation and security, and law enforcement.

The defence cooperation agreement covers maritime security and the pact on security focusses on issues like common threat perception and sharing of data.

Another area of cooperation was in the field of oil and energy where Petroleum Minister Murali Deora held discussions with his Qatari counterpart on the increased supply of Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG). Official sources said the discussion was mainly centred round on the possibility of Qatar providing an additional 2.5 million tonnes of LNG to meet India's fast growing energy needs.

At present, India buys 7.5 million tonnes LNG from Rasgas under a long term agreement. Though an agreement was expected, some modalities are yet to be worked out, officials said.

Earlier, during delegation level talks with the Emir, Minister for Overseas Indian Affairs Vayalar Ravi and Minister of State for External Affairs E Ahamed, who are accompanying the Prime Minister, also joined Dr Singh. National Security Advisor M K Narayanan and Deputy Planning Commission Chairman Montek Singh Ahluwalia also participated in the delegation-level talks.

Both India and Qatar discussed how a mechanism can be constituted by which investment from Qatar can be brought to India as it needs a very huge amount of funds for undertaking infrastructural schemes.

India assured that investments from Qatar would be safe as it has a very sound financial and banking system.

Qatar wanted opportunities in education sector as the country attaches high importance to this field. Several of the youths wanted to pursue higher studies in management, information technology and other fields in India. India was willing to give guidance to the Qatari youths in their higher education.

Indian banks would also be allowed to work with the financial centre in Doha and seek cooperation in enhancing sectoral engagements between the countries.

It was also decided to set up a committee to decide how decisions taken are propely implemented.

Dr Singh will attend a reception hosted by the Indian embassy where he would meet leading Indian businessmen and prominent Indian community people.

Dr Singh will leave for Delhi here late in the evening.

UNI PMD PD RP CS1832

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