A week after the deadly terror attacks rocked Brussels, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi arrived in the Belgian capital as part of his three-nation foreign tour. After attending the India-EU Summit in Brussels on Wednesday, Modi will take part in the Nuclear Security Summit in Washington and also visit Saudi Arabia.
Upon his arrival in Belgium on Wednesday morning, the visiting premier said that he was eager to hold a bilateral summit meeting with his Belgian counterpart Charles Michel (after the India-EU Summit). Prime Minister Modi told the media that India wants to deal with terrorism jointly with Belgium and other EU nations. He once again condemned recent terror attacks in Brussels, saying that it would not be possible for any country to fight against terrorism without global co-operation.
As per his itinerary, Premier Modi will hold a separate meeting with top Belgian businessmen, including a delegation of diamond traders, in Brussels and address the Indian Diaspora.
Top EU officials have welcomed Modi’s decision to attend the EU-India Summit amid heightened security concerns in Belgium, saying that both the parties are keen to re-establish a relationship that has been fading away in recent times.
According to sources close to the Indian Ministry of External Affairs, the Free Trade Agreement (FTA), counter-terrorism and other key area of bilateral co-operation will be on the table. The 13th EU-India Summit, taking place after a gap of four years, will focus mainly on counter-terrorism, although trade and investment will also be on the agenda. EU officials are of the opinion that the summit will certainly give fresh political impetus to the FTA talks. A senior official of the 28-member European bloc told the media: “We are not expecting a miracle on the FTA, but we do hope for a political impulse and signal from both sides that there is a commitment to work towards an agreement, and that it is still on the cards.”
Meanwhile, the EU plans to support initiatives taken by PM Modi to boost the Indian economy. The senior official, who wished to remain anonymous, stressed: “There is a willingness on the EU’s side to support India’s and Modi’s initiatives, especially in the fields of energy, Clean India and water management. And we are very well-placed to contribute to all these.”
The two sides will also discuss foreign policy-related issues, with a special focus on the latest developments in their neighbourhoods. As the EU is happy with India’s decision to play an active role in Afghanistan, the India-EU Summit will discuss areas of co-operation in the war-ravaged Asian country. The EU officials believe that India’s inputs will be important for the bloc, which plans to organise a summit on Afghanistan in November this year. Officials of the two countries will further discuss the current political situation in Pakistan, Nepal, North Korea and Ukraine.