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India’s foreign minister, S Jaishankar, is on a thank-you mission to Kuwait via Qatar.

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On Wednesday morning, External Affairs Minister (EAM) Subrahmanyam Jaishankar embarked on a three-day visit to Kuwait via Doha transit to strengthen bilateral ties and express gratitude to the two countries for assisting India during the raging second wave of the Covid-19 pandemic by acting as a logistics hub for liquid medical oxygen supplies to western India.

While the EAM transports Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s personal letter to Kuwaiti Emir Sheikh Nawaf al-Ahmad al-Sabah, he will meet with his counterpart Sheikh Ahmed Nasser al-Mohammad al-Sabah to discuss ways to strengthen ties in the energy, trade, investment, manpower, and information technology sectors.

Despite the fact that the Indian minister will transit through Doha on Qatar Airways, no meeting with Qatari leadership has been organised as of yet at the airport.

During the second pandemic in India, Kuwait, which has a large Indian community of over a million people, provided 5,267 oxygen cylinders, 450 metric tonnes of liquid medical oxygen, 66 oxygen concentrators, 11 ventilators, and other things such as medications, oximeters, masks, and gloves to India. From May 4 to June 8, Kuwait sent all of its medical assistance to India.

Qatar, which is India’s major LNG and LPG supplier, has also established itself as a major logistical and transportation hub for western India. Since August 2020, it has maintained a steady flow of passenger flights under the air bubble arrangement, particularly in recent weeks when several other Gulf airlines have shut down. In the current circumstance, Doha might become a new transit hub for Indians after the pandemic’s dust settles.

Qatar’s Emir, Sheikh Tamim Bin Hamad Al Thani, called Prime Minister Modi on April 27 to express his country’s solidarity with India and to assure him that Qatar will provide all available assistance. The Indian Ambassador in Doha would liaise with the Prime Minister’s office on the topic, according to the Prime Minister. The Emir quickly gave instructions to his foreign office to find out what India needed and to aid them.

Qatar Airways, one of the world’s major cargo carriers, declared on April 29 that it would transport crucial humanitarian medical cargo to India for free. Qatar Airways played a critical role in transporting foreign medical help to India. On May 3, Qatar Airways dispatched three cargo aeroplanes, one to Delhi, Bengaluru, and Mumbai, each carrying 300 MT of medical supplies sourced from around the world. It featured ventilators, CPAPs, oxygen concentrators, and personal protective equipment.

Qatar was also instrumental in supplementing India’s local production of liquid medicinal oxygen. Minister Dharmendra Pradhan met with his Qatari counterpart, Energy Minister Saad Al Kaabi, on May 1. The latter promised that Qatar Petroleum would take roughly 400 MT of liquid medical oxygen available to India every week.

The Indian community in Qatar, which numbers 700,000 people, also contributed generously, mobilising 532 fully filled oxygen tanks and 43 oxygen concentrators. INS Kolkata delivered the first consignment of 200 completely filled oxygen cylinders and 43 oxygen concentrators on May 10, while INS Tarkash delivered the second consignment of 232 oxygen cylinders with capacities of 42 and 50 litres on May 12. Nagaland, Odisha, Bihar, and Telangana are among the states that have employed them.

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