India, EU pitch for a stronger strategic ties

India and the European Union (EU) today pushed for a stronger strategic partnership through increased cooperation in counter-terrorism as well as security issues that also takes into account "non-traditional threats."

Brussels: India and the European Union (EU)
today pushed for a stronger strategic partnership through
increased cooperation in counter-terrorism as well as security
issues that also takes into account "non-traditional threats."

As Prime Minister Manmohan Singh arrived in at the
Belgian capital to attend tomorrow`s India-EU summit on a cold
wintry evening, the 27-nation EU echoed his views on the need
to expand bilateral engagement.

"I will seek to deepen our political and strategic
cooperation, including in the area of counter-terrorism and
other non-traditional threats to security," Singh said on the
eve of the 11th annual summit.

An EU statement said that European Council President
Van Rompuy was looking forward to launch of EU-India
cooperation in the field of security, in particular in the
area of counter-terrorism.

Singh said India`s partnership with the EU has evolved
from economic and development cooperation to a broader
strategic engagement. The one-day summit is to held on Friday.
The EU statement said the main focus of the Summit will
be the strengthening of the political dimension of the
EU-India strategic partnership, in particular through
increased cooperation in security and counter-terrorism.

The summit is being held against the backdrop of the
intense negotiations on a comprehensive Broad Based Trade and
Investment Agreement that will help increase in Indo-EU trade
by 40 per cent to 100 billion Euros once it comes into force.

The EU statement said the Summit will also provide a
"strong impetus" for an early conclusion of a broad-based
investment and trade agreement.

Singh said the progress in the negotiations to finalise
the ambitious pact will be reviewed at the summit.

Ahead of the summit, the EU leadership also took note of
the negotiations to hammer out an agreement underscoring the
need to give a "final push" to the negotiations. India hopes
to conclude the agreement in March next.

"I am particularly confident that we will make headway
towards a Free Trade Agreement at this Summit, bringing
together markets of one and a half billion people. We should
now give the final push to these talks so we can hail a
historic agreement when we meet next year in Delhi," said
European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso.

Rompuy on his part said the EU will give fresh momentum
to the ongoing negotiations on the Agreement, which will bring
significant economic benefits to both sides and further
strengthen their strategic partnership.

-PTI

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