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PM Modi plans to host high-profile Kuwait royalty member amid Gulf outreach

The dates are being finalised, and Minister of State for External Affairs V Muraleedharan’s visit to Kuwait next weekend could help firm up the contours of the trip, ET has learnt.

, ET Bureau|
Sep 11, 2019, 09.37 AM IST
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Prime Minister Narendra Modi
NEW DELHI: Prime Minister Narendra Modi is planning to host a high-profile member of Kuwait’s ruling family amid Pakistan's efforts to internationalise the Kashmir issue. The move comes after Modi's recent visits to the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain, where he received strong support on cross-border terror.

The dates are being finalised, and Minister of State for External Affairs V Muraleedharan’s visit to Kuwait next weekend could help firm up the contours of the trip, ET has learnt.

Kuwait has been one of the oldest partners of India in the Gulf region.

Although its Emir Sheikh Sabah al-Ahmad al-Jaber al-Sabah visited India in 2017 in his personal capacity, it was way back in 2006 that he had visited New Delhi in his official capacity.

The Emir shares a strong personal connect with the country since childhood.

“It has been felt to upgrade the partnership through a high-profile political visit,” a person familiar with the dynamics of the strategic partnership said.

India is also hoping to attract Foreign Direct Investment from Kuwait.

Oil-rich Kuwait is planning to double investments in India from the current $5 billion, taking advantage of the country’s growth story, and is also exploring third-country joint projects with New Delhi.

The Kuwait Investment Authority (KIA) has invested $5 billion in India and plans to double this, sources told ET.

Kuwait is also planning to enter into third-country joint projects on the lines of the joint Kuwait-Japan investments in third countries, sources familiar with the relationship said.

India and UAE have entered into a third-country project in Ethiopia. New Delhi has similar plans with Saudi Arabia.

Kuwait has a Sovereign Wealth Fund (SWF) of over $592 billion, which is managed by KIA.

“India is looking for a substantial Kuwaiti investments in the oil and gas sector. Large business houses of Kuwait also have investible surpluses,” a brief on India-Kuwait ties by the Ministry of External Affairs showed.

Kuwaiti investment in India has been largely indirect, through portfolio managers.

In December 2015, KIA said it would invest $300 million in GMR Infrastructure Ltd.

Earlier, in October 2015, KIA made a substantial investment in the Initial Public Offering of Interglobe Aviation (Indigo Airlines' parent company), according to the MEA brief.

Kuwait has been an important trading partner for India in West Asia with total trade touching $5.6 billion in 2016-17. It was the seventh largest crude oil supplier to India during the same period.

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