President Ram Nath Kovind on Monday held talks with the top leadership of Greece and discussed ways to enhance political, economic and cultural cooperation between the two ancient civilisations.
Kovind, the first Indian president to travel to Greece in 11 years, met with President Prokopis Pavlopoulos and the two sides held delegation-level talks during which they discussed various issues of mutual interests.
During his meeting, President Kovind emphasised the age-old civilisational ties between the two nations. He said India and Greece shared values of democracy, rule of law and multi-cultural ethos, and these have added depth to their bilateral and multilateral engagements. He also said India was keen to deepen the ongoing co-operation with Greece especially in political and economic fields. President Kovind highlighted India’s commitment to promote trade and investment engagement between the two nations, said a statement issued by the president’s office.
He stated that bilateral trade between the two countries of USD 530 million was below potential and more efforts must be made to expand and diversify trade between them. He also apprised the Greek delegation of the steps taken by India to improve business climate in the country and said that India wished to collaborate with the Greek companies to become partners in the growth story of India. In particular, India could benefit from expertise of Greece in areas such as shipping, food and dairy, and tourism. On the other hand Indian companies especially in the areas of pharma, IT, agriculture, real estate, infrastructure and start-ups are keen to establish presence in Greece, the statement said.
India also thanked Greece for its support for its candidature for a non-permanent seat in the UN Security Council and for membership to the Nuclear Suppliers Group. Kovind said that as “two ancient civilisations that have interacted with each other for centuries, we have a deep cultural understanding of each other.” He also said that the two countries should work together to develop Greek and Indian traditional medicinal practices as healthcare options for people.
Kovind also presented Pavlopoulos a painting of Heliodorus Pillar, erected in 2nd century by Heliodorus who was the Ambassador of Indo-Greek King Antialcidas near Vidisha, Madhya Pradesh, and a sculpture replica of Buddha belonging to Kushan period, 2nd century AD. The President also met Prime Minister of Greece Alexis Tsipras and the two leaders discussed various issues of mutual interest to both nations. Later, Kyriakos Mitsotakis, the Leader of Opposition of the Hellenic Republic, also called on the President.
The two countries also signed three Memorandums of Understanding (MoUs). Kovind, who arrived here on Saturday on the first leg of his three-nation tour, was earlier accorded a ceremonial welcome at the Presidential Mansion in Athens. The President also visited a cemetery here in the Greek capital where 74 soldiers from undivided India, who lost their lives in World War II in Greece, were laid to rest. He paid his respects at the monument of The Unknown Soldier — a war memorial located in Syntagma Square of the capital city.
Earlier, addressing the diaspora, Kovind said India was striving to become a USD 5 trillion economy and the world’s third largest consumer market by 2025, as he highlighted investment opportunities in the country. He also praised overseas Indians for playing an important role in improving bilateral relations.
Kovind will also travel to Surinam and Cuba during his three-nation trip.