Press Information Bureau
Government of India
Prime Minister's Office
09-December-2010 10:16 IST
Statement by the Prime Minister on the eve of departure to Belgium and Germany
Following is the text of the Prime Minister, Dr. Manmohan Singh’s statement prior to his departure to Belgium and Germany:

“I leave today on a visit to Belgium and Germany. In Brussels, I will attend the 11th India-EU Summit jointly hosted by the President of the European Council, Mr. Herman Van Rompuy, and the President of the European Commission, Mr. 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 our interaction.

Our partnership with the European Union has evolved from economic and development cooperation to a broader strategic engagement. This will be the first India-EU Summit since the entry into force of the Lisbon Treaty of the European Union which recast its structures for strengthening the European Union’s external relations. India welcomes the enhanced role that the European Union seeks to play in global affairs pursuant to this Treaty.

India and 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.

The European Union is 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.

I will also attend the India-Belgium Summit in Brussels at the invitation of Prime Minister of Belgium, Mr. 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 the Chancellor of Germany, Mrs. Angela Merkel. Our engagement with Germany is strong and multi-faceted. I look forward to reviewing with Chancellor Merkel the developments in our bilateral cooperation in the areas of high technology, trade, investment, energy, education, vocational training, skills development and culture. I look forward to the opportunity of meeting the President of Germany, Mr. Christian Wulff. Germany and India will serve together on the United Nations 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.