External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj will travel to Qatar and Kuwait from October 28 to 31 in pursuit of India’s objective of enhanced engagement with the Gulf region. She will have engagements in Qatar on October 28 and 29 and Kuwait on October 30 and 31, the Ministry of External Affairs said in a statement.
During her visit to Qatar, Swaraj will interact with her counterpart Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani, who is also the Deputy Prime Minister. She will also call on Sheikh Tamim Bin Hamad Al-Thani, Emir of Qatar. During her visit, she will also interact with the Indian community in Doha, the MEA said. India and Qatar share millennia old historic multi-dimensional, relations.
The bilateral visit of the Emir of Qatar in March 2015 and Prime Minister of Qatar to India in December 2016 and that of the visit of Prime Minister Narendra Modi to Qatar in June 2016 have further boosted traditionally cordial and close ties between the two countries, the MEA said. Qatar hosts about seven lakh Indians who form the largest expatriate community there. Qatar is a reliable energy partner, supplying more than 50 per cent of India’s natural gas imports, it said.
India’s bilateral trade with Qatar in 2017-18 was USD 9.9 billion, the MEA said. The next leg of the visit would be to Kuwait, where Swaraj will hold a bilateral meeting with her counterpart Sheikh Sabah Al Khalid Al Sabah, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs of Kuwait. She will also call on the Emir of Kuwait Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah and interact with the Indian community.
India and Kuwait have close and friendly bilateral relations. Kuwait is a reliable energy supplier to India and hosts about 10 lakh Indians forming the largest expatriate community. India’s bilateral trade with Kuwait in 2017-18 was USD 8.5 billion, the MEA said. This will be Swaraj’s first visit as External Affairs Minister to both the countries.
The visit is in pursuit of India’s objective of enhanced engagement with the Gulf region which is in India’s extended neighbourhood. It will provide an opportunity to hold in-depth discussions with the political leadership on a wide range of global, regional and bilateral issues and will advance India’s growing engagement with these countries in particular and the region in general, the MEA added.