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Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Thursday thanked Qatari Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani for the release of eight Indian nationals, who were sentenced to death after being arrested here in August 2022.

Modi held wide-ranging talks with the Qatari Emir primarily focusing on significantly expanding India-Qatar ties in areas of trade, energy, investment and new technology. Foreign Secretary Vinay Kwatra said at a media briefing that Modi thanked the Emir for his support for the welfare of the Indian community in the Gulf nation.

“The prime minister thanked the Emir for his support for the welfare of the Indian community, and in this regard, expressed his deep appreciation to the Emir for the release of eight Indian nationals of Al-Dahra company. We are extremely gratified to see them back in India,” Kwatra said.

Modi arrived in this Qatari capital city last night after concluding a two-day visit to the United Arab Emirates.

The Navy veterans were on October 26 given death sentences by Qatar’s Court of First Instance. The Court of Appeal in the Gulf nation on December 28 commuted the capital punishment and sentenced them to jail terms for varying durations.

In December, Prime Minister Modi met the Qatari Amir on the sidelines of the COP28 Summit in Dubai and discussed the “well-being of the Indian community” in Qatar.

The former Indian Navy personnel apparently faced charges of espionage, but neither the Qatari authorities nor New Delhi made the charges against them public.

Kwatra said the discussions between Modi and the Emir focused on a wide range of areas of bilateral cooperation including trade partnership, investment cooperation and energy ties.

The two leaders spoke about the need for strategic investments and strategic partnerships in the fields of energy and technology, he said.

The foreign secretary said Modi’s visit to Doha laid the basis for taking India-Qatar relationship to a much higher level across various domains, the two sides are looking at using investment as a vehicle to build long-term strategic partnership.

India and Qatar are looking at broadbasing trade baskets to link it to regional trade, he said.