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India and Qatar ink oil and gas pact amid Iran pressure

Qatar energy facility
Image caption Qatar holds the world's third-largest natural gas reserves

India and Qatar have signed a pact to increase cooperation in the field of oil and gas exploration.

The deal comes as India looks for more sources of oil and gas to meet its growing energy demands.

India has also been facing pressure to reduce its imports of Iranian oil amid nuclear sanctions against Tehran.

Qatar has sixth-largest oil reserves in the Middle East and the world's third-largest natural gas reserves after Russia and Iran.

India is heavily dependent on Iranian oil imports, but the US and its western partners have been targeting Tehran's oil exports to try to force it to abandon its nuclear programme.

The US plans to implement a round of sanctions, starting on 28 June, on banks based in countries that do not cut their oil imports from Iran.

Along with the oil and gas pact, Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh signed five other agreements with the Emir of Qatar, Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani, to boost trade and investment ties.

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