In order to boost the energy sector and engage in more energy deals with the two Gulf countries, Prime Minister Narendra Modi may embark on separate trips to Iran and Qatar in May and June, a report in Economic Times says.
PM Modi’s Iran Visit
The Prime Minister’s visit to Iran has been on cards since the lifting of sanctions and the nuclear deal last year. The ET report quotes sources saying that while the exact days are still being finalised, it is likely that Modi will visit Iran in May.
This visit is being called a landmark move as it will not only concentrate on energy deals but will also create a balance in New Delhi’s policy for the region. Connectivity projects that will give India access to Afghanistan, Central Asia, Russia and beyond (like the Delhi-Tehran-Kabul trilateral agreement for Transport and Transit Corridors or the Chabahar Agreement) are also expected in the key outcomes of the visit, the report says.
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The Chabahar Agreement will make a strategic port operational for the three countries and will give India a gateway to Central Asia, Russia and beyond, without transit rights through Pakistan, the report said.
The two countries may also mull an Indo-Iranian arrangement on counter-terror and defence for both the countries to focus on stability in West Asia (besides Afghanistan), the report said.
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The International North South Transport Corridor may also gain momentum during the visit. The energy sector expects India and Iran to finalise Indian participation in the Farzad-B gas field, the report says.
Iran is looking to get Indian investment in both, upstream and downstream sectors including petrochemicals and fertilisers in the country. It is, on the other hand, looking to invest in Indian refineries, petro-chemical and oil reserves, the report says.
PM Modi’s Qatar Visit
The report also states that after his Iran visit, Prime Minister Narendra Modi will be visiting Qatar in early June where the agenda of the visit shall be dominated by energy deals and diaspora issues. On his Qatar visit, he is expected to address the Indian nationals who comprise the largest expatriate community in Qatar, at a stadium in Doha.
Sources quoted in the ET report say that PM Modi’s trip to Qatar could be a standalone trip and it might take place on his way to Washington. The Doha visit is hinted to happen on June 4-6.
After Prime Minister Modi’s visit to UAE last August and Saudi Arabia this April, Qatar will be the third Gulf Cooperation Council country that he will be visiting.
The current Emir of Qatar made his maiden trip to India in March 2015, which was the first visit of an Arab Head of State after Modi became the prime minister. It was then that the Emir invited Modi to Doha.
The report suggests that as India sources almost 80% global import of LNG from Qatar, the visit could bring in key investments from the Gulf country in Indian sectors.
Though Qatar has a modest hold of FDI’s in India, the country is looking at investing in Indian infrastructure, real estate, roadways, airlines, petrochemicals, LNG, tourism and more.