On 30 March Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi arrived in Brussels for the first leg of his three-nation visit to Belgium, the United States and Saudi Arabia. The highlight of his trip will be hosting the 13th India-EU Summit, which is taking place after a four-year gap with the last summit held in New Delhi, India, in 2012.
Despite only being in Belgium for one day, the Indian prime minister was due to attend a number of meetings and events before leaving for the US on 31 March. Read the full text of Modi's speech while in Brussels.
Your Excellency Prime Minister Charles Michel,
Ladies and Gentlemen.
Thank you for your remarks.
Last week has been a sad week for Belgium. Let me say Mr Prime Minister that we share the depth of sorrow and grief that the people of Belgium have experienced in the last eight days. My deepest condolences to the families of those who lost their loved ones to the terror strikes in Brussels last week. Having experienced terrorist violence ourselves on countless occasions, we share your pain. Mr Prime Minister, in this time of crisis, the whole of India stands in full support and solidarity with the Belgian people. I deeply appreciate your welcome and the time that you have devoted to me despite pressing demands on you. As part of our efforts to respond to this common challenge, we could resume discussions on a Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty. Negotiations on Extradition Treaty and a Treaty on Exchange of Sentenced Prisoners could be concluded expeditiously.
Our two countries share a long history of friendship. A hundred years ago, more than 130,000 soldiers from India fought in the First World War alongside your countrymen on Belgian soil. More than 9,000 Indian soldiers made the supreme sacrifice. Next year will mark the 70th anniversary of India-Belgium diplomatic ties. To celebrate this important milestone in our friendship, we look forward to welcoming His Majesty King Philippe of Belgium in India next year. We would also be commemorating it with a joint programme of activities in each others' countries. My conversation with Prime Minister Charles Michel today covered the whole spectrum of our ties. A system of bilateral foreign policy consultations would recommend concrete ways to upgrade our partnership.
India is one of the brightest economic opportunities in the world today. Our macroeconomic fundamentals are robust, and at 7% plus, we are one of the fastest-growing economies of the world. I believe that a combination of Belgian capacities and India's economic growth can produce promising opportunities for businesses on both sides. Prime minister and I have just held a productive interaction with Belgian CEOs and business persons earlier today. I invite the Belgian government and companies to pro-actively associate with India's ambitious development projects, including Digital India, Start Up India and Skill India. Belgian businesses can make their global supply chains more cost effective by manufacturing in India. India's goal to modernise infrastructure, especially railways and ports, and building of 100 plus smart cities also presents a unique investment opportunity for the Belgian companies. These partnerships can help us reach new heights in our trade and commercial partnership. I have invited Prime Minister Michel to visit India with Belgian businesses to see first-hand the reality of India's economic and political promise. Clearly, it is not just diamonds that can bring shine to our partnership. Climate change is one of the greatest challenges before mankind. Prime minister and I have agreed to enhance our cooperation in renewable energy. We would also build partnerships in areas, such as harnessing waste for energy, small wind turbines and zero emission buildings. Advancement in S&T and high technology areas is of particular importance for India's development priorities. We welcome Belgium's collaboration in these areas. Prime Minister Michel and I have just activated, remotely, India's largest optical telescope. This product of Indo-Belgian collaboration is an inspiring example of what our partnership can achieve. The work is also afoot on other agreements in the areas of Information and Communication Technology, audio-visual production, tourism, biotechnology and shipping and ports.
In a couple of hours from now, I would meet the EU leadership for the 13th India-EU Summit. For India, EU is one of our strongest strategic partners. Trade, investment and technology partnership between India and the EU would be one of the focus areas of our discussions. I feel that a progressive path and creative mind-set to India-EU Trade and Investment Agreement can enable all the European countries, including Belgium, to benefit from India's strong economic growth.
I once again express my sincere gratitude to Prime Minister Charles Michel for his time, welcome and hospitality. I look forward to welcoming him in India.