India and Greece today agreed to deepen bilateral cooperation in a range of key areas including trade, investment, and energy and inked a pact for launching the first direct flight service between the two countries.
External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj and her Greek counterpart Nikos Kotzias held extensive talks covering the entire expanse of bilateral relations during which they resolved to take steps to further expand the ties.
An air services agreement and another pact on cooperation in the field of new and renewable energy were signed after the talks, External Affairs Ministry Spokesperson Raveesh Kumar said.
He said the discussions covered all aspects of bilateral relationship and that the two leaders reaffirmed commitment to further expand cooperation in mutually beneficial spheres.
The air services agreement will allow Indian airlines to operate to Athens, Thessaloniki and Heraklion. Similarly, the Greek airlines will also be able to launch flight services to major Indian cities.
At present there is no direct air connectivity between India and the southeastern European nation.
The volume of bilateral trade has gradually declined, primarily due to the economic recession faced by Greece. The country has been dependent on bailout packages to deal with its borrowing needs since 2011.
The size of bilateral trade between India and Greece was USD 606.93 million in 2009-10 which fell to USD 445 million in 2015-16.
Greece’s exports to India include cotton, marble and granite, aluminium foils and calcium carbonate while main Indian exports are petroleum products, automobile components, electrical transformers, frozen shrimps and cashew nuts.
About 10,000 Indian nationals are living in Greece and most of them are employed in factories or in construction sector.
Kotzias is on a four-day visit to India which will conclude tomorrow.