Narendra Modi to visit Qatar, US in June

New Delhi: Prime Minister Narendra Modi will be visiting the Gulf state of Qatar and the US on a five-day visit starting 4 June, the Indian foreign ministry said on Friday.

Modi’s US trip will be the third bilateral engagement in a span of two years. Modi has previously visited the US in September 2014 and September 2015. He also visited Washington in March for the fourth Nuclear Security Summit.

A separate statement from the White House said: “President (Barack) Obama will meet with Prime Minister Modi of India at the White House on Tuesday, June 7.”

“The visit will highlight the deepening of the US-India relationship in key areas since the President’s visit to New Delhi in January 2015 (as India’s Republic Day chief guest),” the statement added.

“The President looks forward to discussing progress made on our climate change and clean energy partnership, security and defence cooperation, and economic growth priorities.”

The high point of the US visit will be Modi’s address to the US Congress.

“The main objective of the forthcoming visit of the Prime Minister would be to consolidate the progress made in diverse areas such as economy, energy, environment, defence and security, and to intensify cooperation for the future,” a statement from the Indian foreign ministry said.

“The Prime Minister has also been invited by the Speaker of the US House of Representatives, Paul Ryan, to address a joint meeting of the US Congress which he has accepted,” it added.

Modi will be the fifth Indian prime minister to address a joint meeting of Congress. Earlier, Prime Ministers Manmohan Singh (19 July, 2005), Atal Bihari Vajpayee (14 September, 2000), PV Narasimha Rao (18 May, 1994) and Rajiv Gandhi (13 July, 1985) addressed joint meetings of the US Congress.

The US Congress is seen as supportive of the India-US strategic partnership and the India Congressional Caucus—comprising a group of US lawmakers—is the largest such group in the US Congress.

During the visit, Modi will have interaction with the chiefs of major US companies, the ministry said.

“The realization of the full potential of Indo-US economic partnership has been a key priority for both the countries and the progress achieved in this regard is reflected in the increased investment flows,” the ministry said.

On his way to the US, the prime minister will stop off in energy-rich Qatar, as part of India’s efforts to recast ties with the Gulf region.

This will be the first visit by an Indian Prime Minister to Qatar in the last eight years. The then Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had visited Doha in 2008.

Modi will hold talks with Emir of Qatar Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani on a range of bilateral issues including ways to further boost economic ties, particularly in the hydrocarbon sector, the Indian foreign ministry said.

Qatar is an important trading partner for India in the Gulf region with bilateral trade in 2014-15 exceeding $15 billion. It is India’s largest supplier of liquified natural gas, accounting for 65% of the country’s total imports in 2015-16. It is also one of India’s key sources of crude oil.

Qatar is hosting the FIFA World Cup in 2022 and a number of Indian companies are involved in construction work in that country.

The NDA government has been focusing on improving ties with the countries of the Gulf region which is crucial for India’s energy security.

Modi has already visited United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia and will visit Iran on 22-23 May.