NEW DELHI: Prime Minister

Narendra Modi



Emir Tamim bin

Hamad Al Thani

on the sidelines of the CO climate summit in the UAE on Friday, in the first high-level contact between the two countries since a Qatar court awarded death sentence to eight Indian


veterans in October this year on spying charges.
While Indian officials were tight-lipped on whether Modi specifically raised the issue concerning the navy veterans, who were held by Qatar intelligence authorities on charges of spying for Israel, the


said in a tweet that he discussed the well-being of the Indian community in Qatar.

“On the sidelines of the CO summit in Dubai yesterday, had the opportunity to meet the


of Qatar. We had a good conversation on the potential of bilateral partnership and the well-being of the Indian community in Qatar,” said Modi on X, a day after the meeting. There was no formal readout of the conversation by the government.
Sources declined to comment on whether the issue of the retired navy personnel was raised, saying the two leaders were alone when they spoke on the sidelines of the opening ceremony.
In fact, there was no formal bilateral meeting between the two leaders. Photographs from the summit on Friday showed them together on the margins of the opening ceremony. On Saturday, however, Modi tweeted another photograph which showed them holding hands and talking to each other, saying that he had a good conversation with the Emir, who is known to pardon prisoners during the holy month of Ramadan. The Emir had visited India in 2015 and Modi had paid a return visit to Doha next year.

India has been raising the issue with Qatar diplomatically and intelligence authorities have also brought it up with their counterparts in the Gulf country. A higher court is currently listening to India’s appeal against the verdict.
The Indian government, however, has been careful enough to not talk about these efforts in the public because of the sensitive nature of the case and also the bilateral relationship. India has been looking to enhance its security and defence partnership with Qatar, a country that is also home to 800,000 Indian nationals.

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