As he leaves for Belgium as part of a three-nation tour on Tuesday night, Prime Minister Narendra Modi hailed the ‘resilience and spirit’ of its people in the wake of the horrific Brussels bombings and said India stands ‘shoulder-to-shoulder’ with them.
From Brussels, Modi will leave for Washinton to attend the Nuclear Security Summit on March 31 and April 1 and from there he will travel to Saudi Arabia on a two-day visit with a focus on boosting energy and security cooperation.
In Brussels, Modi will attend the 13th India-EU Summit and in a pre-deparature statement, he said it will advance multifaceted engagement across a whole range of sectors and described the 28-member bloc as a “vital trading partner”.
On Saudi Arabia, Modi said India’s relations with the Gulf nation were ‘special’ and that ‘robust’ people-to-people ties constitute a key component of the bilateral engagement.
“I plan to work with the Saudi leadership to expand and deepen our bilateral relations.”
Modi’s visit to Brussels comes eight days after the deadly attacks on the city in which at least 35 people, including an Indian, died and over 300 were wounded.
“No words are enough to salute the resilience and spirit of the people of Belgium. We stand shoulder-to-shoulder with them in the wake of the horrific attacks in Brussels and share the grief of those who lost their loved ones,” the Prime Minister said.
Besides attending the long-pending India-EU summit, Modi will hold Summit talks with his Belgian counterpart Charles Michel tomorrow to expand the existing ties in diverse areas, including in trade and investment.
“Our relations with Belgium are deep-rooted and have stood the test of time. Within the EU, Belgium is India’s second largest trading partner. My meeting with the Prime Minister aims to expand trade, investment and high technology partnership with this important EU member,” the Prime Minister said.
Modi said he would be meeting with the Members of European Parliament (MEPs), Indologists, Belgian CEOs as well as a cross section of the Indian diaspora in Brussels.
He would also interact with the Board Members of the Association of Diamond Traders in Belgium. He will also address a Community Programme and interact with the Indian community.
On the Nuclear Security Summit, he said it would deliberate on the crucial issue of threat to nuclear security caused by nuclear terrorism.
“Leaders would discuss ways and measure through which to strengthen the global nuclear security architecture, especially to ensure that non-state actors do not get access to nuclear material,” Modi said.
“On the sidelines of the Summit, I would meet with several world leaders to carry forward the agenda of bilateral cooperation with those nations. I also look forward to my interaction with the scientists associated with LIGO project,” the Prime Minister said.
The Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory (LIGO) is a large-scale physics experiment and observatory to detect gravitational waves.
Following the discovery of gravitational waves, the government last month had given an “in-principle approval” for establishing a state-of-the-art LIGO project in the country.
Modi is visiting Saudi Arabia on April 2 and 3 at the invitation of King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud.
“India’s ties with Saudi Arabia are special. Robust people-to-people ties constitute a key component of our engagement. I plan to work with the Saudi leadership to expand and deepen our bilateral relations. Discussions on the regional situation would also be on the agenda.
“Our economic ties are also expanding. Saudi Arabia is India’s 4th largest trading partner, and is also India’s largest crude oil supplier,” Modi said.
In addition to his meeting with the King, Modi said he was also looking forward to his discussions with other important members of the Royal family.
“We want the prominent Saudi businesses to partner with India’s development priorities. That would be one of the key objectives of the business event planned in Riyadh.
“I will visit the Masmak Fortress, ‘L&T Workers’ Residential Complex and TCS All Women IT & ITES Center in Riyadh,” he said.
In Brussels, Modi said he and the Belgian PM would “remote activate” the India-Belgium ARIES (Aryabhatta Research Institute for Observational Sciences) telescope located at Devasthal near Nainital.