SPEECH BY THE PRESIDENT OF INDIA, SMT. PRATIBHA DEVISINGH PATIL AT THE BANQUET IN HONOUR OF THE EMIR OF THE STATE OF QATAR, H.H. SHEIKH HAMAD BIN KHALIFA AL-THANI
New Delhi, 9th April 2012
Your Highness Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani,
Your Highness Sheikha Moza bint Nasser Al Missnad,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
On behalf of the Government and the people of India, it gives me great pleasure to welcome your Highness Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani and Her Highness Sheikha Moza bint Nasser Al Missnad ,and the members of the Qatari delegation to India.
We recall the memorable visits of your Highness to India in 1999 and 2005. Those are important milestones in our relations. We also remember the visit of Her Highness Sheikha Moza to India in 2006, and the contribution of that visit towards deepening engagement between our two countries. The visit of Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh to your country in November 2008, marked a significant step towards further strengthening of our bilateral relations.
Our countries have deep and rich historical connections. Qatar is a part of our extended neighbourhood. Our civilizational links with the entire Gulf region have today developed into a multi-faceted relationship over the years. We believe that it is time to translate our surging contemporary synergy into a mutually beneficial and durable partnership.
Economic and commercial ties between India and Qatar rest on strong foundations. Energy co-operation is a key pillar of our bilateral engagement, Qatar being a prominent partner in India's quest for energy security. Both our economies are growing and offer many opportunities. Our bilateral trade and investment levels, however, remain below their potential. There is an urgent need to work towards enhancing our economic inter-linkages for the mutual benefit of our countries and peoples. There are many possibilities for Qatari business in India in sectors like infrastructure, energy and fertilizers. Indian companies are also making their presence felt in Qatar in diverse sectors such as engineering, contracting, IT and consumer durables. We do hope that they will be worthy partners in Qatar's economic progress, and contribute meaningfully towards your country's preparations for the 2022 Football World Cup.
I understand that there are half a million Indians in the State of Qatar. Please allow me to take this opportunity to thank Your Highness, for the friendship and hospitality extended to the Indian community in Qatar, which adds another dimension to our friendship.
Your Highness, you come from a region that is of vital importance to us. Some countries in West Asia and North Africa are currently witnessing momentous changes. The political, social and economic agenda for the region is witnessing rapidly shifting currents, and new paradigms are evolving. India has vital stakes in the security and stability of our extended neighbourhood which has a bearing on the progress and prosperity for both of us. As a country committed to democracy, India stands for peaceful and inclusive political processes to address the aspirations of all sections of society. We also believe that it is important to ensure that solutions to conflicts are arrived at by consensus among all stake holders, through dialogue and without recourse to violence.
Your Highness, we are impressed by the wisdom and commitment with which you have led your country's political and economic reform agenda. In this endeavour, you can count on India as your partner. There is an old Arab saying that it is important to select the right companion before embarking on a journey. I am sure that our partnership will be for the good of the peoples of our two countries. It is with this belief that I would request you all to join me in raising a toast:-
- to the continued health and well being of His Highness Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani and Her Highness Sheikha Moza;
- to enhanced co-operation between India and Qatar; and
- to the continuing friendship between our peoples.