External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar has met top leaders of the European Union and held wide-ranging talks on key issues such as combating terrorism, climate change and enhancing economic cooperation, that would “benefit both India and the EU”.
S Jaishankar, who was in Germany during the weekend for the prestigious Munich Security Conference, arrived here on Monday to prepare the ground for Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s planned visit for the India-EU summit here next month.
He was here at the invitation of Josep Borrell Fontelles, European Union’s High Representative/Vice President for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, for a discussion with the Foreign Affairs Council (FAC) of the EU, the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) said in a statement.
The FAC, constituted by the EU High Representative and the 27 Foreign Ministers of bloc’s members, is responsible for the EU’s external action on foreign policy, defence and security, trade, development cooperation and humanitarian assistance.
S Jaishankar shared with the FAC India’s foreign policy priorities and regional and global perspective.
“The focus of the exchange was on the common values of India and the EU, which represent the world’s two largest democracies and their shared commitment to democracy, multilateralism, rules-based international order, rules-based international trade with the WTO at its core and sustainable development,” according to the statement.
Both the sides expect to deepen their engagement – particularly on common priorities such as addressing climate change, safeguarding multilateralism, cooperation in defence, security, connectivity, digital economy, trade and investment as also in the field of defence security and addressing the menace of terrorism, it said.
This was S Jaishankar’s first visit to the EU after the assumption of office of the new Commission in December 2019.
The Foreign Minister met EU Commissioner for International Partnerships Jutta Urpilainen and the two leaders discussed experiences in capacity building and development partnerships.
“Coordination on these issues would be to the benefit of both India and EU,” S Jaishankar tweeted.
The Minister also held “positive and productive” parleys at the Foreign Affairs Council of the EU.
“Thank the attending Foreign Ministers, Ambassadors & senior officials and most of all HR (High Representative) @JosepBorrellF. Looking forward to working together to strengthen this key partnership,” he said. Jaishankar also met EU Commissioner for Trade Phil Hogan and “exchanged views on the prospects for India-EU economic cooperation.”
He appreciated President of the European Council Charles Michel for his vision for the EU and Eu-India relations and expressed confidence that “his (Michel) leadership can translate that into substantive outcomes.”
S Jaishankar held a very “engaging” conversation with Executive Vice-President for the European Green Deal Frans Timmermans and the two leaders discussed experiences on sustainability, climate change, environment and innovation.
S Jaishankar also had an open discussion with members of the European Parliament representing a broad spectrum of politics and member states.
“The interaction covered political, economic and social issues. Noted their deep interest in India and our relations with the EU,” he tweeted.
S Jaishankar met Philippe Goffin, Belgian Minister of Foreign Affairs and of Defence and congratulated him on Belgium’s assumption of the Presidency of the UNSC for February 2020.
The two Ministers discussed India-Belgium cooperation in the bilateral context, in multilateral fora as well as regional and global issues of shared interest.
During his one-day visit, Jaishankar exchanged views with a group of members of the European Parliament representing various members and political groupings in the new European Parliament. This was his second such interaction with the MEPs.
S Jaishankar’s visit comes weeks after the European Parliament postponed until March a vote on joint motion, combining five different resolutions tabled by its members against India’s Citizenship Amendment Act, which was debated at its Plenary session in Brussels.
During the debate, Helena Dalli, the Vice-President of the European Commission and High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, had said the Commission was looking forward to Prime Minister Modi’s visit to Brussels in March for the 15th India-EU Summit.