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India, Qatar sign pact to fight hawala, terror funding

India and Qatar on Sunday agreed to share intelligence to combat ‘hawala’ transactions and terror financing as the two countries signed seven agreements and decided to move beyond the trading relationship and get into strategic investments.

India, Qatar sign pact to fight hawala, terror funding
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Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Emir of Qatar Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani

The two sides highlighted the need to “isolate” the sponsors and supporters of terrorism and agreed that urgent action against all such entities, which support terrorism and use it as an instrument of policy, must be taken. 

At the end of wide-ranging talks, Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who is on a two-day visit, had with Emir of Qatar Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani and Qatari leadership, the two sides decided to constitute an inter-ministerial high-level joint committee to regularly review all bilateral matters, as well as regional and global issues of mutual interest. 

“Crucial agreements were signed today, which will give new strength to India-Qatar ties,” said Modi. “Sheikh Tamim and I had wide ranging talks on how India and Qatar can further expand bilateral ties,” he tweeted. An MoU was signed between the Finance Intelligence Unit-India (FIU) and Qatar Financial Information Unit to share intelligence on illegal movement of money, termed as ‘hawala’. 

“The two sides further agreed to take action against illegal transfer of money,” a joint statement issued after the talks said. There is a lot of money flow and investment from Qatar. A number of black money investigations have taken Indian authorities to Qatar’s shores and such an MoU is seen as a move to help combat money offences. 

Under this pact, the two sides also agreed to exchange financial intelligence to combat terrorism financing and other economic offences. Briefing reporters, Secretary (Economic Relations) Amar Sinha said: “They (Qatari side) also realise that terror does pose a threat to both of us and to our region. “Both the sides felt that time has come that we need to move beyond the trading relationship and get into strategic investments.”  Strongly condemning the phenomenon of international terrorism, Modi and the Emir resolved to cooperate together to root out this global menace. 

They asserted that acts of violence, terrorism and extremism cannot be justified under any circumstances, regardless of their motivation, in all their forms and manifestations. “The two leaders highlighted the need to isolate the sponsors and supporters of terrorism and agreed that urgent action against all such entities, which support terrorism and use it as an instrument of policy, must be taken,” the statement said. 

The two sides also underlined the need to “disrupt terrorist movements, stopping all sources for financing of terrorism and countering terrorist propaganda through internet.”

Modi bats for India Inc in Qatar
Describing India as a ‘land of opportunity’, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Sunday invited Qatar’s business leaders to take advantage of it by investing in the country and promised to address bottlenecks in doing business identified by them.
”India is a land of opportunity. I have come to personally invite you to take advantage of this opportunity,” Modi said in a round table meeting with Qatari business leaders, his first engagement on the second day of his visit to the oil-rich Gulf nation. The Prime Minister identified agro processing, railways and solar energy as very promising areas for Qatari investment.
“All of you recognise the potential of India. I will address the bottlenecks you have identified,” Modi said. He described 800 million youth in India as the country’s biggest strength. “India’s 800 million youth are its biggest strength. Infrastructure expansion and manufacturing are my other priorities,” Modi added. He added that projects like Smart Cities, metros and urban waste management are geared towards upgrading quality of life of the people. 
The Prime Minister also praised the role of Emir of Qatar Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani in promoting India-Qatar business ties. Earlier, Qatar’s Minister of Trade and Economy Sheikh Ahmed bin Jassim Al Thani welcomed Modi and sought more intensive economic engagement with India. The size of annual bilateral trade between India and Qatar is around USD 10 billion and both the countries would like to expand it significantly. 
Qatar has a major sovereign wealth fund and India is eyeing to attract investment from it. Modi is on a five-nation vis it and has landed in Qatar on Saturday from Afghanistan. Modi will also visit Switzerland, the US and Mexico as part of the tour.
Narendra Modi leaves for Switzerland on Sunday 
Prime Minister Narendra arrived here on Sunday night on the third leg of his five-nation tour, that will also take him to the US and finally Mexico. Black money stashed in Swiss banks and the membership of Nuclear Suppliers’ Group is likely to be the prime focus when Modi meets the President of Switzerland Johann Schnieder-Ammann on Monday.  During the talks, both the leaders will discuss the bilateral and multilateral issues of mutual interest.

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