EU foreign policy chief on India visit

EU Foreign & Security Policy Chief Catherine Ashton will visit India June 22-25 to promote bilateral relations.

Updated: Jun 22, 2010, 11:09 AM IST

Brussels: European Union (EU) Foreign and Security Policy Chief Catherine Ashton will visit India June 22-25 to promote bilateral relations, which is one of her top priorities during her mandate, EuAsiaNews reported.
The main focus of Ashton`s visit is the EU-India ministerial meeting in Delhi Tuesday.

The two sides will discuss a range of bilateral and global issues, including terrorism, piracy, climate, energy, trade and the financial crisis, as well as regional matters, including Afghanistan and Pakistan.

The ministerial meeting will also prepare for the 11th EU-India summit to be held in October in Brussels.

"The EU and India share both aspirations and fundamental values, notably a commitment to multilateralism in world affairs. We should bolster our relationship not as an end in itself, but with a real sense of purpose," Ashton said in a statement released by the European Commission, the executive body of the 27-member EU.

"We need to improve our capacity to respond jointly to global challenges. We must encompass a wide range of areas of cooperation from security, climate change and the economy to migration, education and culture," said Ashton who is also the vice president of the European Commission.

Ashton said she hopes to deepen cooperation with India in the area of security and defence, in particular in the field of crisis management and anti-piracy. With this in mind, Ashton will be accompanied on her visit by Gilles de Kerchove, the EU anti-terrorism coordinator, and Gen. Ton Van Osch, head of EU military staff.

She will hold a number of bilateral meetings with key politicians and policymakers, including Shivshankar Menon, India`s National Security Advisor. She will meet civil society and visit a number of EU-funded projects.