Stepping up further engagement with the energy rich and strategically important Persian Gulf and the Arab world, Narendra Modi plans separate trips 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 PM whose visit has been in works since the nuclear deal and lifting of sanctions is now expected to visit Iran in May, authoritative sources indicated to ET. The exact dates for the visit in May are being finalised, sources informed.
Following Iran the PM will make a trip to Qatar early June where energy deals and diaspora issues, besides regional challenges, are expected to dominate the agenda. He is also expected to address a meet of the Indian diaspora community at a stadium in 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 stand alone, there are some speculations that Modi can visit Doha enroute to Washington. Dates of June 4-6 are in the works for the visit to Doha, sources hinted. Qatar will be the third Gulf Cooperation Council country that Modi will be visiting after his trips to UAE last August and Saudi Arabia this April, 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 documents in connectivity projects (that would give India much needed access to Afghanistan, Central Asia, Russia and beyond) and energy partnerships.