India maintains hectic West Asian diplomacy

Tribune News Service

New Delhi, December 28

India has maintained its hectic diplomacy with West Asia aimed at attracting petro dollars for infra projects and ensuring that the huge expatriate community does not get rough treatment at a time when jobs are scarce and crude prices are ruling low.

External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar’s visit to Qatar, which ended on Monday, will be followed by a visit to Kuwait, said sources. He has already travelled to the UAE and Bahrain.

This was Jaishankar’s first visit to Qatar after taking over as External Affairs Minister. Hosting over seven lakh Indians, New Delhi had tried to maintain frequent contacts with Qatar.

PM Narendra Modi thrice spoke to the Amir of Qatar Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani over telephone in the past few months while Jaishankar and his Cabinet colleagues have been in touch with their Qatari counterparts.

Significantly, Indian Army Chief General MM Naravane has just returned from Saudi Arabia and the UAE.

The six Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries – Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, the UAE, Qatar, Oman and Bahrain – host nearly 90 lakh Indians. South Bock, concerned about their wellbeing during the pandemic, has maintained frequent high level contacts with the leadership.

This has not only ensured that the GCC countries pay special attention to Indian expatriates but brought in investment from their deep-pocketed sovereign funds. As a result, Kuwait and UAE did not immediately send back Indians after the Covid struck early this year. The breathing space allowed state governments to arrange for the infrastructure to deal with returning Indians.

Jaishankar had last month addressed GCC leaders at their annual political dialogue last month during which he had urged them to allow the return of Indian workers and professionals through travel bubble arrangements.

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