Amid a diplomatic standoff between Qatar and four Arab nations, the welfare of Indian workers in the gas-rich Gulf nation came up for discussion during a meeting between external affairs minister Sushma Swaraj and Qatari Foreign Minister Sheikh Mohamed bin Abdulrahman Al-Thani here on Saturday.
“EAM @SushmaSwaraj welcomes Mr. Sheikh Mohamed bin Abdulrahman Al-Thani, Foreign Minister of Qatar on his visit to India,” External Affairs Ministry spokesperson Raveesh Kumar tweeted along with a picture of the two leaders.
“Bilateral issues, including welfare of Indian workers in Qatar were discussed,” he said.
There are around 630,000 expatriate Indians in Qatar, many of whom are blue collar workers in that country’s construction sector.
Sheikh Mohamed’s visit, who arrived here on Friday, assumes more significance as it comes at a time when the Gulf nation is in a nearly three-month-old diplomatic standoff with a group of four Saudi Arabia-led Arab nations.
Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates and Egypt cut off diplomatic ties with Qatar on June 5 charging Doha with supporting extremist organisations like the Muslim Brotherhood, Hezbollah and the Houthis in Yemen, and interfering in the internal affairs of other countries.
Qatar is a member of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), which comprises of Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the UAE.
India is close to both Qatar, the largest gas supplier, and Saudi Arabia, one of the biggest crude oil suppliers.
Published on 26 August 2017