Sushma Swaraj to visit Qatar and Kuwait during October 28-31
Qatar is home to about 700,000 Indians, who form the largest expatriate community there and account for almost 27% of the country’s total population, while Kuwait has about one million Indians, again the largest expatriate community.Updated: Oct 26, 2018 08:48 IST
External affairs minister Sushma Swaraj will make her first visit to Qatar and Kuwait during October 28-31, with energy security, trade and investment topping the agenda for her interactions in both countries.
Swaraj’s visit is in line with the government’s overall objective of enhancing engagement with the Gulf region, which is a major supplier of oil and gas and is home to millions of expatriate Indian workers, said people familiar with the planning for the trip.
Qatar is home to about 700,000 Indians, who form the largest expatriate community there and account for almost 27% of the country’s total population, while Kuwait has about one million Indians, again the largest expatriate community. In both countries, Swaraj will address members of the Indian community at special functions.
“Both countries are also reliable energy partners for India and Qatar provides more than 50% of India’s natural gas imports. Energy security and investments will figure in the talks in both countries,” said one of the people cited above.
Indian companies are also eyeing projects linked to the 2022 Football World Cup to be hosted by Qatar, which has triggered a boom in construction activity, the people said.
The Qatar crisis, triggered by the severing of diplomatic ties with the country by Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Egypt and several others nations in June 2017, is also expected to figure in Swaraj’s interactions.
Kuwait is a key interlocutor in the region and its leadership has said that the continuation of the crisis would be destructive for the region.
Swaraj, who is visiting at the invitation of her counterparts, will have engagements in Qatar on October 28 and 29 and in Kuwait on October 30 and 31. In Doha, she will call on Sheikh Tamim Bin Hamad Al-Thani, the emir of Qatar, and hold talks with her counterpart Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani.
In Kuwait, she will meet her counterpart Sheikh Sabah Al Khalid Al Sabah and call on Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah, the emir.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to Qatar in June 2016 boosted the traditionally close bilateral ties.
First Published: Oct 25, 2018 22:34 IST