New Delhi: India and the Netherlands on Thursday signed more than 50 pacts to deepen cooperation in areas like education, water and waste management, agriculture food processing, information technology and the development of smart cities.

The agreements were signed during the visit to India by Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte, who arrived in New Delhi early on Thursday. The value of the deals was not known but this is one of the largest raft of pacts that India has signed with any country in recent times.

With Britain set to exit from the 28-member European Union, the Netherlands is keen to boost ties with Asia’s third largest economy whose companies have traditionally used Britain as a base for launching their European operations. “They also see India as having high growth potential and are bullish on India," said a person familiar with the development.

The Dutch prime minister is on his second visit to India since 2015. But he cut short his two-day visit by half to join a cabinet meeting on Friday about new findings on the downing of a Malaysian passenger flight MH17 over Ukraine in 2014, the Dutch embassy in New Delhi confirmed. Rutte cutting back on his India visit follows prosecutors investigating the downing of the flight saying on Thursday that they had identified the missile used to shoot down the plane in 2014, as coming from a Russian military unit. The aircraft had 298 people on board, two-thirds of them Dutch nationals. All those on board died when it was hit by the Russian-made missile.

Earlier in the day, Modi after talks with Rutte said that his visit to the Hague last year and Rutte’s current visit had helped sustain a high momentum of interaction between the two countries.

Noting the Netherland’s expertise in agriculture and food processing sectors, Modi said that India was keen to partner Dutch companies given that this was a subject linked to India’s food security and his government’s aim to double farmers’ incomes by 2022. Modi also noted that the Netherlands had agreed to open a centre of excellence in agriculture in Baramati. He also stressed the huge scope for deepening cooperation in areas of trade and investment, clean energy, agriculture and smart cities.

Bilateral trade at present is $5.39 billion. The Netherlands is the fifth largest investor in India with a cumulative investment of $23 billion from 2000 to December 2017. The country is also home to a 235,000-strong Indian diaspora, the largest in mainland Europe.

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