PM Plans Iran, Qatar Vis­its to Boost Ties

Vis­its are ex­pected in May and June re­spec­tively, Modi looks to clinch en­ergy deals

The Economic Times - - Pure Politics - Di­pan­janRoy.Chaud­hury @times­

New Delhi: Step­ping up fur­ther en­gage­ment with the en­ergy rich and strate­gi­cally im­por­tant Per­sian Gulf and the Arab world, Naren­dra Modi has planned sep­a­rate vis­its to Iran and Qatar in May and June re­spec­tively.

With oil min­is­ter Dhar­men­dra Prad­han and ex­ter­nal af­fairs min­is­ter Sushma Swaraj mak­ing back to back vis­its to Tehran, the prime min­is­ter, whose visit has been in works since the nu­clear deal and lif- ting of sanc­tions, is now ex­pected to visit Iran in May, sources told ET. The ex­act dates are be­ing fi­nalised, sources in­formed. Iran visit will be fol­lowed by Qatar visit early June where en­ergy deals and di­as­pora is­sues be­sides re­gional chal­lenges are ex­pected to dom­i­nate the agenda.

He is also ex­pected to ad­dress a meet­ing of In­dian di­as­pora com­mu­nity at the sta­dium Doha on the lines of his pre­vi­ous such meets in Dubai, USA, Canada, UK, Aus­tralia and China. In­dian na­tion­als com­prise the largest ex­pa­tri­ate com­mu­nity in Qatar.

While there are in­di­ca­tions that the trip to Qatar could be stand­alone, there are some spec­u­la­tions that Modi can visit Doha en route to Wash­ing­ton.

Doha visit may likely take place dur­ing June 4-6, sources hin- ted. Qatar will be the third Gulf Co­op­er­a­tion Coun­cil country that Modi will be vis­it­ing af­ter UAE and Saudi Ara­bia that yielded sub­stan­tial re­sults in counter-ter­ror ini­tia­tives and in­vest­ments. Modi’s visit to Tehran is billed to be a land­mark one and a move that will also bal­ance Delhi’s pol­icy in the re­gion as it has ex­panded its ties with the Arab world.

The visit could see some key out­come in con­nec­tiv­ity projects (that would give In­dia much needed ac­cess to Afghanistan, Cen­tral Asia, Rus­sia and be­yond) and en­ergy part­ner­ships.

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