PM Modi will visit Brussels for EU-India summit as planned: MEA

  • HT Correspondent, Hindustan Times, New Delhi
  • Updated: Mar 22, 2016 22:06 IST
Explosions went off at the airport and a metro station in Brussels on Tuesday morning, in what appears to be a suicide attack. As many as 21 people died in the attacks with dozens more injured. (Reuters)

There is no change in the schedule of the European Union-India summit on March 30 to be attended by Prime Minister Narendra Modi following Tuesday’s blasts in the Belgian capital, officials said.

The Indian government confirmed Modi’s visit and called for united efforts to deal with terrorism after the coordinated attacks by the Islamic State killed 34 people.

Two crew members of Jet Airways were injured in the attack at the airport, external affairs ministry spokesperson Vikas Swarup said. They did not sustain severe injuries and were being treated in a local hospital, he added.

The external affairs ministry released emergency phone numbers in Brussels for Indian citizens. A Jet Airways spokesperson said there was no damage to any of its Airbus aircraft at the airport.

The timing of the formal announcement of Modi’s visit to Brussels reflected India’s solidarity with the European country even as Belgium raised its terror alert to its highest level.

“We condemn the terrorist attack in Belgium in the strongest possible terms. We stand in solidarity with the people and government of Belgium,” Swarup said.

Read more | PM Modi gets set for tour to Saudi Arabia, Brussels and US

Modi, who will attend a diaspora event in Brussels, tweeted soon after the attacks: “News from Brussels is disturbing. The attacks are condemnable. Condolences to families of the deceased. May those injured recover quickly.”

From Belgium, Modi will travel to the US for the Nuclear Security Summit beginning on March 31. After the US visit, Modi will go to Saudi Arabia for an official visit beginning on April 2.

Batuk Gathani, an Indian journalist based in Brussels for nearly a decade, told HT the vast majority of the Indian population in Belgium is based in Antwerp, engaged in the diamond trade. There are Nearly 2,500 NRIs in Antwerp.

The Indian community in Brussels mainly comprises professionals but includes a sizeable number of Sikhs working on potato farms on the outskirts of city. Some Indians are employed in various organisations of the European Commission.

According to the Indian embassy, the diaspora in Belgium numbers around 18,000, of whom 10,000 are Indian citizens. Nearly 1,500 Indian IT professionals work for Belgian companies and nearly 800 Indian students are registered at different universities.

A travel advisory issued on Tuesday night asked Indian nationals living in Brussels or visiting it to exercise caution and remain alert in view of the attacks.

The advisory specifically asked Indians to avoid crowded places, especially city centres, and to refrain from unnecessary travel and using public transport.

Read more | In pics: Panic grips Brussels after string of explosions

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