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Next Indo-EU summit in Delhi on Nov 30

The seventh Indo-European Union summit will be held in New Delhi on November 30, Portuguese ambassador Luis Filipe Castro Mendes says, reports Madhur Singh.
Hindustan Times | By Madhur Singh, New Delhi
UPDATED ON JUL 05, 2007 09:19 PM IST

The seventh Indo-European Union summit will be held in New Delhi on November 30, Portuguese ambassador Luis Filipe Castro Mendes said on Thursday. He was addressing reporters to announce the start of the Portuguese presidency of the EU, which will continue until the end of this year.

"This New Delhi Summit will be the opportunity to enhance our partnership, to improve our cooperation and to deal with key issues and challenges of today’s world," Mendes said, adding that issues of common interest such as climate change, energy security, clean and renewable energy as well as science and technology would figure on the agenda.

As president of the European Council, Portuguese Prime Minister Jose Socrates will represent the EU at the summit, together with European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso and the High Representative of the Council, Javier Solana.

The summit will be preceded by a business seminar on November 29. The EU is India’s largest trading partner and the two started negotiations on a wide-based trade and investment agreement last week. The next round is scheduled for October in New Delhi, and India aims to conclude the negotiations by the end of 2008.

Pointing out that the first Indo-EU summit was also held when Portugal held the EU presidency in 2000, Mendes said, "That was a major landmark of this important relationship, which is now growing into a robust strategic partnership." He added that Portugal, as president of the EU, would strive to carry forward the trade agreement negotiations, to achieve the goals set out in the Indo-EU Joint Action Plan of 2005, and to create "a deeper and closer partnership".

With regard to the general direction of the EU’s external relations during Portugal’s presidency, Mendes said the aim is to sharpen the EU’s focus on the South and the East. "[We are] trying to give the so-called emerging BRIC economies a greater importance in Europe’s external relations," Mendes said.

Towards the end of the Portuguese presidency in December, an EU-Africa summit will be held. "This can assume special significance for the emerging Indian interests in Africa," Mendes said, adding, "The EU, and particularly Portugal with its historical experience and special relationship with the continent, would be most interested in working in partnership with India to cooperate with Africa."

Mendes said the EU would be happy to share its experience of integration with SAARC. The Head of the EC Delegation in India, Francisco Da Câmara Gomes, added that the EU has had a partnership with the SAARC secretariat for some years, especially in terms of sharing experiences regarding customs and economic union.

Regarding India’s lifting of additional customs duty on wines and liquor in order to comply with WTO guidelines, Gomes said it was a step in the right direction, but refused to comment on whether the EU would withdraw its complaint at the WTO.

He also welcomed the Cabinet decision approving India’s participation in the ITER project to explore harnessing of fusion energy.

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