PM pitches for pact with Belgium to combat terrorism
Brussels, Mar 30, 2016 (PTI)
Prime Minister Narendra Modi with his Belgian counterpart Charles Michel at a meeting in Brussels, Belgium on Wednesday. PTI Photo
Prime Minister Narendra Modi today strongly pitched for resumption of talks on a Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty and other instruments to combat the common challenge of terrorism during his talks with Belgian premier Charles Michel, days after a series of terror attacks in the Belgian capital that left over 30 people dead.
During the talks, the two leaders covered whole spectrum of bilateral ties.
Modi, who arrived here today on a day-long visit, invited Belgian government and companies to pro-actively associate with India’s ambitious projects including ’Digital India’, ’Start Up India’ and ’Skill India’, asserting that combination of Belgian capacities and India’s economic growth can produce promising opportunities for businesses on both sides.
Referring to various partnership possibility between the two countries, Modi said Belgian businesses can make their global supply chains more cost effective by manufacturing in India. "Clearly, it is not just diamonds that can bring shine to our partnership," he added.
Ahead of his talks, Modi laid a wreath of white flowers at the Maalbeek Metro station in the Belgian capital where a suicide bomber blew himself up killing scores of passengers, including Raghavendran Ganeshan, an Infosys employee from Bengaluru.
"Last week has been a sad week for Belgium. Let me say Prime Minister that we share the depth of sorrow and grief that the people of Belgium have experienced in the last 8 days...Having experienced terrorist violence ourselves on countless occasions, we share your pain.
"Prime Minister, in this time of crisis, the whole of India stands in full support and solidarity with the Belgian people. I deeply appreciate your welcome and the time that you have devoted to me despite pressing demands on you.
"As part of our efforts to respond to this common challenge we could resume discussions on a Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty. Negotiations on Extradition Treaty and a Treaty on Exchange of Sentenced Prisoners could be concluded expeditiously," Modi said after his talks with Belgian leader.
Modi’s visit comes just days after the March 22 terror attack here in which at least 32 people were killed.
Describing India as "one of the brightest economic opportunities" in the world today, Modi said its macroeconomic fundamentals are robust, and at 7 per cent plus, the country was one of the fastest growing economies of the world.
India’s goal to modernise infrastructure, especially railways and ports, and building of 100 plus smart cities also presents a unique investment opportunity for the Belgian companies, he said, adding that these partnerships can help the two countries reach new heights in their trade and commercial partnership.
Modi said he has invited Prime Minister Michel to visit India with Belgian businesses to see first-hand the reality of India’s economic and political promise.
Climate change is one of the greatest challenges before mankind and the two countries have agreed to enhance their cooperation in renewable energy, he said.
"We would also build partnerships in areas such as harnessing waste for energy, small wind turbines and zero emission buildings. Advancement in S&T and High technology areas is of particular importance for India’s development priorities," the Prime Minister said.
Noting that India and Belgium share a long history of friendship, Modi said a hundred years ago, more than 130,000 soldiers from India fought in the First World War alongside Belgians on Belgian soil and more than 9,000 Indian soldiers made the supreme sacrifice.
"Next year will mark the 70th anniversary of India-Belgium diplomatic ties. To celebrate this important milestone in our friendship, we look forward to welcoming His Majesty King Philippe of Belgium in India next year," he added.