Doha: India and Qatar on Sunday agreed to share intelligence to combat ‘hawala’ transactions and terror financing as the two countries signed seven agreements and decided to move beyond the trading relationship and get into strategic investments.
The two sides highlighted the need to “isolate” the sponsors and supporters of terrorism and agreed that urgent action against all such entities, which support terrorism and use it as an instrument of policy, must be taken.
At the end of wide-ranging talks, Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who is on a two-day visit, held with the ruler of Qatar, Shaikh Tamim Bin Hamad Al Thani, and other senior Qatari leaders, the two sides decided to constitute an interministerial high-level joint committee to regularly review all bilateral matters, as well as regional and global issues of mutual interest.
“Crucial agreements were signed today (Sunday), which will give new strength to India-Qatar ties,” said Modi.
“Shaikh Tamim and I had wide ranging talks on how India and Qatar can further expand bilateral ties,” he tweeted.
An MoU was signed between the Finance Intelligence Unit -India (FIU) and Qatar Financial Information Unit to share intelligence on illegal movement of money, termed as ‘hawala’.
“The two sides further agreed to take action against illegal transfer of money,” a joint statement issued after the talks said.
There is a lot of money flow and investment from Qatar. A number of black money investigations have taken Indian authorities to Qatar’s shores and such an MoU is seen as a move to help combat money offences.
Under this pact, the two sides also agreed to exchange financial intelligence to combat terrorism financing and other economic offences.
Briefing reporters, Secretary (Economic Relations) Amar Sinha said: “They (Qatari side) also realise that terror does pose a threat to both of us and to our region.
“Both the sides felt that time has come that we need to move beyond the trading relationship and get into strategic investments.”
Strongly condemning the phenomenon of international terrorism, Modi and the ruler resolved to cooperate together to root out this global menace.
They asserted that acts of violence, terrorism and extremism cannot be justified under any circumstances, regardless of their motivation, in all their forms and manifestations.
“The two leaders highlighted the need to isolate the sponsors and supporters of terrorism and agreed that urgent action against all such entities, which support terrorism and use it as an instrument of policy, must be taken,” the statement said.
The two sides also underlined the need to “disrupt terrorist movements, stopping all sources for financing of terrorism and countering terrorist propaganda through internet”.
An MoU was also signed between Qatar Investment Authority and External Affairs Ministry for investment in National Investment and Infrastructure Fund between the two countries that would facilitate foreign investment from the gas-rich Gulf state.
Sinha said it involves establishing a framework for promoting Qatari investment in India including in asset reconstruction in public sector undertakings whose assets are in distress and getting FDI into them.
Cooperation and investment in areas of skill development and education, health, tourism and sports between the two countries were the other agreements signed by Indian and Qatari officials in the presence of Modi and Shaikh Tamim.
An agreement was also signed between the two countries on cooperation and mutual assistance in custom matters besides an MoU on cooperation in tourism.
The MoU on customs matters included resolving the issues of under-invoicing and over-invoicing as well as money laundering issues, Sinha said.
Among the various sectors that were being viewed, include railways, agro-processing, solar energy as also defence and general manufacturing, he said.
External Affairs Ministry spokesperson Vikas Swarup said that the warmth with which the Qatari delegates met the Prime Minister was reflected when the leadership told him that “Qatar is your second home”.
According to Swarup, they also said that India and Qatar should complement each other and India is closest and nearest to them.
The discussions between Modi and the Emir were held in a “cordial” and “friendly” atmosphere.
The two leaders exchanged views on the security situation in West Asia, Middle East and South Asia while expressing “grave” concern over the situation in Syria, Iraq, Libya and Yemen. They reiterated the importance of peaceful resolution of these issues through dialogue and political negotiations.
Modi was accorded a ceremonial guard of honour at the Emiri Diwan that was followed by official bilateral talks between the two leaders.
“The full splendour of an Arab welcome as PM @narendramodi receives ceremonial honours at Emiri Diwan in Doha,” External Affairs Ministry spokesman Vikas Swarup tweeted along with a photo.
At the outset, Modi personally extended greetings to the Emir, who celebrated his 36th birthday two days back. The Prime Minister had called him on that day to convey the greetings over phone.
“Final bilateral engagement is an important meeting with the Father Emir of Qatar. PM @narendramodi calls on him at Old Emiri Diwan,” he said in another tweet, referring to Shaikh Hamad Bin Khalifa Al Thani who announced his abdication as leader of the gas-rich Gulf state in June 2013 following which Shaikh Tamim became the Emir.
Earlier, at his first engagement of the day, Modi addressed 20 top Qatari business leaders. Highlighting India’s “investment-friendly policies”, he invited them to “grab” the vast opportunities for business, especially in the infrastructure sector, while promising to remove “bottlenecks” identified by them.
Qatar’s business community had some questions related to rules and clearances, to which Modi said his government had changed rules and norms to enable easier Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) in a number of sectors, sources said.
He specifically mentioned sectors like railways, defence, manufacturing and food processing. He also spoke about the big opportunity existing in the tourism sector.