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Kalam's last official outing to Greece

The President's int'l trip to EU parliament and Greece may be his last as president as he demits office in June.

india Updated: Apr 17, 2007 19:24 IST

President APJ Abdul Kalam will embark on what could probably be the last international trip of his term when he addresses the European Parliament in Strasbourg, France, on April 25 and also pays an official visit to Greece.

For Kalam, who goes on a five-day visit from April 24, it would be his fifth state visit abroad and maybe the last as president as he demits office in June - though there are reports of the possibility of a second term which he may not be inclined to accept..

Kalam, 76, who became the 11th president of the country on July 25, 2002 succeeding KR Narayanan, had the distinction of being the first non-political person to occupy this highest constitutional post. "I think it is very important that the president of India comes to the European Parliament because we want to have good relations between the European Parliament and India and so the president of India is most welcome," was how European Parliament President Hans-Gert Poettering described the forthcoming visit.

Relations between India and the 27-member European Union (EU) are set to expand and grow, said Neena Gill, who was recently elected the chairperson of the European Parliament's 'Delegation for relations with India'.

After the first meeting of the European Parliament (EP) committee in Brussels, Gill, a British Member of the European Parliament (MEP) of Indian origin, said, "We can now move forward on EU-India relations to improve understanding."

Welcoming the upcoming visit of Kalam to the EP, Gill said, "It is a good opportunity to focus on major issues."

Last month, the EP in a significant move decided to split the original delegation for SAARC into three, one for India, one for Afghanistan and one for the rest of South Asia.

The 785-member EP is the only elected institution of the EU. The members are elected once every five years by the 27 member states of the European Union.