Trade and terror on agenda, PM leaves for Belgium and Germany (Lead)

December 9th, 2010 - 3:20 pm ICT by IANS  

Manmohan Singh New Delhi, Dec 9 (IANS) Counter-terrorism would figure prominently in discussions with leaders of the European Union, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said Thursday as he left on a two-nation tour to Belgium and Germany.

Reforms in the United Nations Security Council and expanding trade ties between India and the 27-nation economic bloc top the agenda of the four-day trip.

In a statement before leaving India, the prime minister said India wanted to deepen political and strategic cooperation with the European Union and bilateral relations with Germany.

In Brussels, his first halt, Manmohan Singh will attend the 11th India-EU Summit jointly hosted by European Council president Herman Van Rompuy and European Commission president Jose Manuel Barroso.

India and the European Union have a strategic partnership, with annual summits and a Joint Action Plan reflecting the intensity and breadth of their interaction.

“Our partnership with the European Union has evolved from economic and development cooperation to a broader strategic engagement,” the prime minister said.

“India welcomes the enhanced role that the European Union seeks to play in global affairs pursuant to this treaty,” he said. “India and the European Union share common values of democracy, pluralism, tolerance, the rule of law, respect for fundamental human rights, freedom of the press and independence of the judiciary.

“There is a high degree of convergence of our views on global issues. I will seek to deepen our political and strategic cooperation, including in the area of counter terrorism and other non-traditional threats to security.”

He pointed out that the European Union was India’s largest trading partner and a significant source of investment and technology. It is also increasingly a destination for Indian investment.

“Negotiations on a Broad Based Trade and Investment Agreement are underway, and we hope to review the progress of the negotiations during the summit,” he said.

“I will also attend the India-Belgium Summit in Brussels at the invitation of Belgium Prime Minister Yves Leterme. Belgium is a key partner in Europe, and has been supportive of India on issues of importance to us.

“Our discussions will explore ways of diversifying our trade basket and promoting cooperation in high-technology sectors.

“I will pay a working visit to Germany at the invitation of Chancellor Angela Merkel. Our engagement with Germany is strong and multi-faceted.

“I look forward to reviewing with Merkel the developments in our bilateral cooperation in the areas of high technology, trade, investment, energy, education, vocational training, skills development and culture.”

Manmohan Singh will also meet German President Christian Wulff in Berlin.

He said that Germany and India will serve together on the UN Security Council as non-permanent members during 2012-13.

“My discussions in both Belgium and Germany will also include a review of the major regional and global issues we face today.

“These include the situation in Afghanistan and climate change, as well as the state of the global economy and the role of the G-20 in the recovery process. ”

Manmohan Singh returns to India Sunday from Berlin.

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