PM returns to India after Europe tour

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Sunday returned to India after a two-nation European tour to Belgium and Germany.

New Delhi: Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Sunday returned to India after a two-nation European tour to Belgium and Germany.

During his three-day tour, Manmohan Singh attended an India-EU summit in Brussels and also held bilateral meetings with Belgian leaders before arriving in Berlin Saturday on an eight-hour trip to meet German Chancellor Angela Merkel.

The Prime Minister also addressed a joint press conference along with German Chancellor Angela Merkel, and praised Germany for supporting the opening of international commerce for India in the field of civil nuclear energy, adding that both sides have discussed the possibilities of entering into bilateral cooperation in civil nuclear energy.

In a bid to strengthen the strategic partnership, India and the 27-member European Union on Friday agreed to deepen cooperation on several issues of multilateral concerns including counter terrorism and to augment efforts to ensure that by early next year a free trade agreement is ready for signatures.

India and the European Union issued a joint statement after the 11th EU-India Summit on Friday in which they reiterated their commitment to share common values relating to democracy, rule of law, civil liberties and respect for human rights, and agreed to reinforce their strategic partnership.

India represented by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, and the European Union, represented by Herman Van Rompuy, President of the European Council, and Jose Manuel Durão Barroso, President of the European Commission, agreed to work for meeting the challenges of the 21st century.

Both sides discussed bilateral, regional and global issues of common interest and concern during the summit in the context of the Lisbon Treaty.

On the bilateral front, leaders of both sides recognized the value of pursuing an ambitious and balanced broad-based trade and investment agreement, but only agreed on the contours of a final package.

They reaffirmed the importance of reaching an ambitious and balanced conclusion by spring of 2011.

Welcoming the business summit held in the margins of the summit, both sides agreed that enhanced cooperation between business organizations from EU and India would greatly benefit their respective companies and improve opportunities for cooperation.

The leaders also welcomed increasing cooperation in the field of security and defence, and agreed to pursue the EU-India dialogue and cooperation in this area, including in the context of counter-piracy naval operations and more broadly in support of the UNSC resolutions.