Sushma Swaraj begins seven-day tour of four European countries, aims to improve engagement and trade ties

New Delhi: External affairs minister Sushma Swaraj left on Sunday for a seven-day tour of Italy, France, Luxembourg and Belgium, which is aimed at deepening India's strategic engagement and trade ties with the four European countries.

In Brussels, Ms Swaraj will meet the top leadership of the European Union (EU) during which both sides are likely to deliberate on removing hurdles for resumption of negotiations on the long-pending EU-India free trade pact. The visit from 17-23 June will provide an opportunity to hold in-depth discussions with the political leadership on a wide range of global, regional and bilateral issues and advance India's growing strategic engagement with the European Union, the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) said.

In the first leg of her visit, Ms Swaraj will travel to Italy for the first major political exchange between the two countries after Giuseppe Conte assumed charge as the Italian prime minister. Ms Swaraj will call on prime minister Conte and also meet her counterpart, Mr Enzo Moavero Milanesi.

 Sushma Swaraj begins seven-day tour of four European countries, aims to improve engagement and trade ties

External affairs minister Sushma Swaraj on a 7-day trip to Europe to solidify bilateral ties. Twitter/@MEAIndia

The external affairs minister will then travel on 18 June to France where she will spend two days. In Paris, Ms Swaraj will meet her counterpart, Jean-Yves Le Drian and the two sides will review the bilateral relations. India and France are celebrating the 20th anniversary of their Strategic Partnership.

Ms Swaraj will be in Luxembourg from 19-20 June and it will be the first-ever visit there by an Indian external affairs minister, the MEA said. During her stay, Ms Swaraj will be calling on Grand Duke of Luxembourg Henri Albert Gabriel Felix Marie Guillaume and Prime Minister Xavier Bettel. "Swaraj will also have meetings with Jean Asselborn, Minister of Foreign and European Affairs and Pierre Gramegna, the Minister of Finance. In Luxembourg, she will also interact with the Indian community," the MEA said.

On the last leg of her tour, Swraj will visit Belgium from 20-23 June. In Brussels, she will meet Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs of Belgium Didier Reynders.

She will also meet President of the European Commission Jean-Claude Juncker and President of the European Parliament Antonio Tajani.

The MEA said Ms Swaraj will also meet her counterpart, Federica Mogherini, the High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, to review the entire gamut of India-EU relations.

She will also deliver a keynote speech at the high-level event —'Climate, Peace and Security: Time for Action', lead the International Yoga Day celebrations at the European Parliament and also interact with the Indian community, the MEA said.

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Updated Date: Jun 18, 2018 07:05:26 IST