Indian Prime Minister, Manmohan Singh, visited the Gulf nation of Qatar on Sunday 9th December 2008 to meet with Sheikh Hamad Bin Jasim Bin Jabir Al Thani, and is expected to sign to agreements on defence and security during their talks.

Energy security is one of the major issues on the agenda and India is looking to significantly increase its current LNG supply deal with Qatar. The Gulf nation currently exports 7.5m tonnes of liquefied gas to India as part of a 25 year agreement signed in 1999, making it Qatar’s third largest export partner after Japan and Singapore.

At 25 trillion cubic metres, Qatar has the world’s third largest reserve, comprising 15% of the world’s total. Qatar is expected to emerge as the world’s largest exporter of LNG by the end of this decade, exporting 77m t.p.a.

“We wanted to get over the current buyer-seller relationship (in gas) and upgrade it to a more sustainable partnership,” expressed political minister and Head of Chancery at the Indian embassy, Sanjiv Kohli.

He added, “Bilateral trade between India and Qatar now stands at $3.3bn and is significantly tilted in favour of Qatar because much of it is accounted for by gas exports.”

India also looks to be affirming bilateral ties with neighbours Pakistan and Iran following a meeting between India’s Foreign Minister and the Iranian President. The minister expressed that India hopes to finalise the Peace Pipeline agreement soon after a meeting to be held in India.