Modi to visit Brussels for EU-India summit

Brussels, March 15 (IANS) Prime Minister Narendra Modi is expected to visit Belgium on March 30 to attend the European Union-India Summit being held after four years.

The first visit of an Indian prime minister to Brussels in six years will reinvigorate EU-India ties and inject new momentum into the relationship, said Indian ambassador to the EU Manjeev Singh Puri.

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“We hope to use this summit to ensure that whatever may have happened, a few little slip ups here and there, we are back on the rails for bilateral meaning and collaborations which is for global good,” Puri said at an event on EU-India relations, organised by the think tank ‘Friends of Europe’.

“We are the world’s two largest democracies, we encompass diversity. We have 22 official languages in India. You, in the EU, have 24. We have 29 federal states, you have 28 member states. This itself should give you the idea why there is a sense of comfort which should be driven by far greater invigoration,” he said.

“We hope to see a vastly invigorated modern relationship,” he added.

On her part, Shada Islam, director of policy at the Friends of Europe in her introductory remarks said: “If both sides play their cards right, the summit could pave the way for a more ambitious, dynamic and adventurous EU-India relationship.”

“India and the EU need a new conversation, a new focus on shared interests as well as new goals and ambitions. Above all, they need to take a fresh look at each other, replacing tired misperceptions and cliches. The summit should come up with a new EU-India action plan which is short, snappy and action-oriented,” she suggested.

The event, organised with the support of Tata Consultancy Services, was attended by senior officials from the EU and international institutions, diplomats, business and NGO representatives, academics and other key stakeholders.

Addressing the issue of the ongoing negotiations on the EU-India trade and investment agreement, other speakers on the occasion discussed sectors which are ripe for increased EU-India synergies.

The last EU-India Summit was organised in 2012 in New Delhi.

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