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India, Qatar Broaden Ties Beyond Energy Trade

Friday, April 27, 2012

With the Iran-Pakistan-India natural gas pipeline project a casualty of U.S. opposition and persistent mistrust between New Delhi and Islamabad, India has increasingly turned to Qatar to meet its growing natural gas requirements over the past decade. Holding the world's third-largest gas reserves after Russia and Iran, Qatar is a natural choice for such a role. But after the recent visit of Qatari Emir Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani to India, the two states are looking to broaden their economic ties beyond trade in energy. Qatar is set to emerge as a strategic investor in India's infrastructure plans, while India is holding steady on its security guarantees to the Persian Gulf emirate.

Beyond relying on nuclear and solar energy, India's climate change mitigation strategy envisions a major switch from oil to less-carbon-intensive natural gas, especially in the transportation sector. For the better part of the past 10 years, New Delhi envisioned Iran as the key international partner in executing this strategy. But given the geopolitical issues surrounding Iran's nuclear program and India's lingering security concerns over a route traversing Pakistan, New Delhi is now looking to Qatar to fill that role, at least for the near-to-medium term. The fact that Qatar has an operational gas-liquefaction terminal -- Iran's is still under construction, with Indian support -- is also a factor in this decision. ...

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