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India, Qatar ink key defence, security pacts

world Updated: Nov 11, 2008 02:19 IST
Tushar Srivastava
Tushar Srivastava
Hindustan Times
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India and Qatar have signed landmark defence and security agreements paving the way for joint maritime security, sharing of intelligence on threats posed by terrorism and cooperation in tackling trans-national crimes.

The agreements were signed after Prime Minister Manmohan Singh arrived here on Sunday from Muscat. He met his Qatari counterpart Sheikh Hamad bin Jassim bin Jabr al-Thani and held discussions on a number of issues.

The defence cooperation pact, a senior official said, paves the way for joint maritime security and sharing of intelligence on terror threat. Senior officials accompanying the Prime Minister described the defence agreement as “just short of stationing troops” in the Gulf region. “The agreement is beneficial to both sides. It takes care of our interest and their security concerns,” an official said. Defence secretary Vijay Singh and his Qatari counterpart signed the agreement.

On Monday, the PM met Emir Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani. In an interview to a local newspaper, Singh said, “In this period of global turmoil, I feel that the complementarities between our two economies provide an opportunity for counter-cyclical strategies for growth in both the countries.”

“We should exploit opportunities for investment in Qatari financial centres and special economic zones. There is also scope for Qatar to invest in the infrastructure (sector) in India,” the PM said.

Petroleum Minister Murli Deora, who arrived here on Monday, met Qatar’s Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Energy and Industry Abdullah bin Hamad al-Attiyah. The Indian side has asked Qatar for an additional 2.5 million tons of liquefied natural gas (LNG).

India buys 7.5 million tons of LNG from Qatar every year as part of a 25-year contract. “The supply might be increased,” said N. Ravi, secretary (East).