Modi’s five-nation tour: Afghan visit concludes, next stop Qatar


Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, on Saturday, jointly inaugurated the Afghan-India Friendship Dam, a Rs 1,700 crore showpiece infrastructure project by India in strategically important Herat province, reflecting India’s strong commitment to reconstruction of the war-ravaged country.

The Prime Minister will also hold talks with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani on the current situation in the country and the peace process besides other bilateral and regional issues.

Mr. Modi will also visit Qatar, Switzerland, the U.S. and Mexico, during which the focus will be on broadening bilateral trade, energy and security cooperation and push for India’s bid to become a member of Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG).

Mr. Modi is likely to seek support of Switzerland and Mexico for India’s membership in the 48-member NSG. The issue is likely to figure in Mr. Modi’s meeting with U.S. President Barack Obama in Washington on June 7.

Live updates:

4.08 pm: Mr. Modi concludes Afghanistan visit. His next stop is Qatar.

3:11 pm: During Mr. Modi’s Qatar visit, India and Qatar are expected to give a fresh push to their economic ties, particularly in the hydrocarbon sector. Mr. Modi will also address top business leaders of Qatar, a country which is India’s largest supplier of LNG requirements, accounting for 65 per cent of its total imports last financial year.

1:57 p.m.: Mr. Modi concludes with Herat Sufi poet Jami’s words: Whatever happens, will always experience freshness and happiness of gentle breeze of friendship.” Read more

1:55 p.m.: Mr. Modi thanks Afghanistan for the honour, affection and friendship.

1:52 p.m.: Cricket diplomacy? Mr. Modi says, “We want to see ur democracy strike deep roots;ur people unite; your economy prosper, art & culture thrive; cricketers play Tests and the IPL.

1:51 p.m.: The friendship dam unites us in solidarity as Chishti Sharif joined us in spirit centuries ago, Mr. Modi says.

1:50 p.m.: Mr. Modi emphasises that Indian cooperation will extend to every part and benefit every section of the Afghan society.

1:42 p.m.: The dam will irrrigate land, light up homes: Modi. He says, “we are not just launching a project, we’re reviving a region, renewing life,restoring hope and redefining Afghanistan’s future.”

1:40 p.m.: Honoured to be among people who have set the standard of courage; Privileged to see again high tide of f’ship in vast ocean of love for India: Modi

1:40 p.m.: Thank you President for naming this dam as Afghan-India Friendship Dam. We are truly humbled by this generosity of the Afghan spirit: Modi

1:28 p.m.: Mr. Ghani says the dam will chart a new course of cooperation and prosperity.

1:20 p.m.: Afghan President Ghani says, “I present my profound gratitude to you, to compassionate people and competent govt. of India.” He thanks the Indian govt. nd says a 40-year-old dream has been realised. “Today, with your help, an old dream of our people is realised after 40 years of waiting.”

(Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Afghan President Ashraf Ghani inaugurate the Afghan-India Friendship Dam in Herat on Saturday. Photo: PTI)

1:07 p.m.: PM Modi and Afghan President Ashraf Ghani to jointly inaugurate the Afghan-India Friendship Dam in Herat, shortly.

12:45 p.m.: PM Modi arrives in Herat, Afghanistan.

Top 10 things on the agenda:

1 The Prime Minister will first travel to Afghanistan where he will inaugurate the Afghan-India Friendship Dam, earlier known as Salma Dam, in Herat province, along with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani. Both the leaders will also hold talks on a range of issues.

2 Mr. Modi said he will exchange notes with “friend” Ghani on regional situation and “setting agenda” for bilateral cooperation in the coming period.

3 After Afghanistan, Mr. Modi will travel to energy-rich Qatar and from there he will leave for a two-day visit to Switzerland on Sunday.

4 About the Qatar visit, Mr. Modi had said, “This visit will nourish the historical bonds of friendship deeply rooted in people to people contacts, energy, trade and investment partnership.” The Prime Minister will also interact with business leaders in Qatar with an aim seek investment and realise the full potential of trade and investment cooperation between the two countries.

5 In Qatar, the Prime Minister will hold talks with his counterpart Abdullah bin Nasser bin Khalifa Al Thani and Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani on a host of issues which may include trade and security.

6 About his visit to Switzerland, Mr. Modi described the country as India’s key partner in Europe. Asked at a press briefing on PM’s visit whether the issue of black money will be raised by Mr. Modi during his talks with Swiss leaders, Foreign Secretary S. Jaishankar said both the countries are in touch on the issue. “We are in touch with the Swiss government under the DTAA (Double Taxation Avoidance Agreement) mandate and we have had some discussions on this and we have a few planned in the near future. We have received support from the Swiss authorities on exchange of information on tax data between the two countries.

7 From Switzerland, the Prime Minister travels to Washington on June 6 where he will have a packed schedule including an address to a joint session of the U.S. Congress. He will be the fifth Indian Prime Minister to do so. Mr. Modi is visiting the U.S. at the invitation of Mr. Obama.

8 Mr. Modi will begin his U.S. visit on June 6. He’ll pay tributes at the Arlington National Cemetery. He will then meet heads of a number of American think tanks and will attend an event to repatriate Indian antiquity by the U.S.

9 Mr. Modi will address the 40th AGM of the USIBC (US India Business Council) and meet US business leaders who he said have, over the past two years, “shown renewed confidence in India.” The Prime Minister said he will also interact with members of the House of Representatives and the Senate, “many of whom have been valued friends of India and strong votaries of deepening India-USA ties.”

10 The Prime Minister will arrive in Mexico on June 8. He will have extensive talks with Mexican President Enrique Peieto on key bilateral issues including India’s membership in the NSG.