PM Modi to visit Brussels despite terror attacks


Modi

India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi will visit Brussels as scheduled for the India-EU summit on March 30 despite the terror attacks on the airport of the Belgian capital on March 22. India’s External Affairs Ministry spokesperson Vikas Swarup said: “We condemn the attack in the strongest possible terms. We stand in solidarity with people and government of Belgium. We offer our condolences to the families of the victims. Terrorism is a global scourge and the attack in Belgium underscores once again the need to counter it unitedly. Our Mission in Belgium is closely monitoring the situation. They’ve already issued helpline numbers. As of now we have no reports of any Indian casualties.”

“Prime Minister Modi will hold the bilateral summit with Belgium. The Prime Minister will then proceed to Washington where he will attend the Nuclear Summit on March 31,” Mr Swarup said. Describing the terror attacks as disturbing and condemnable, Mr Modi tweeted: “News from Brussels is disturbing. The attacks are condemnable. Condolences to families of the deceased. May those injured recover quickly.”

Mr Modi will visit Belgium as a part of the three-nation tour visit. He will also travel to the US and Saudi Arabia. During the visit to Brussels, India and EU will focus on giving thrust to the India-EU Free Trade Agreement (FTA) which had been stalled in recent years. Mr Modi will also hold a bilateral meeting with his Belgian counterpart Charles Michel. Belgium is India’s second largest trading partner in EU and the meeting will focus on enhancing the economic partnership.

US visit

In the US, Mr Modi will attend the Nuclear Security Summit (NSS) on March 31 and hold bilateral meetings on the sidelines of the summit. He will also have a bilateral meeting with US President Barack Obama. The NSS is expected to review the progress made on the previous NSS Communiqués. The summit is also expected to outline a future agenda.

Visit to Saudi Arabia

On April 2, Mr Modi will visit Saudi Arabia, which will be the first visit to the country by an Indian Prime Minister after 2010. The visit to Saudi Arabia comes at a time when India seeks to bolster its energy security as well as counter-terror cooperation. With growing incidents of terror in West Asia and South Asia, Mr Modi will seek to enhance the strategic partnership with Saudi Arabia. Saudi Arabia is now India’s fourth largest trading partner and the bilateral trade stood at $39 billion in 2014-15. It is also home to a 2.9 million strong Indian diaspora and Mr Modi’s visit will focus on bolstering people to people contacts.