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Business News/ News / World/  Afghanistan, Indo-Pacific security in focus as Jaishankar heads for EU

NEW DELHI : Security in Afghanistan and the Indo-Pacific region will be key issues on the table during Indian foreign minister S Jaishankar’s three-nation European visit to Slovenia, Croatia and Denmark starting Thursday.

The visit “will provide an opportunity for reviewing the progress in our bilateral ties with the three Central European countries, and for strengthening our multifaceted relationship with the EU (European Union)," a statement from the Indian foreign ministry said. 

India sees the EU as a key partner in trade besides investments and technology. Earlier this year in May, India and the EU announced they would resume talks to conclude a free trade pact that had been stalled for many years.

The first stop of the four-day tour will be Slovenia from 2-3 September.

“Slovenia currently holds the Presidency of the Council of the European Union and has invited Jaishankar to attend an informal meeting of the Ministers of Foreign Affairs of EU Member States on 3 September," it said. The informal format, known as the Gymnich meeting, is a highlight of each country’s presidency.

"A special invitation has been extended to the minister by the EU Presidency to participate in this informal meeting and interact with the EU FMs," a person familiar with the development said. The focus of discussions at this forum was expected to be on "developments in Afghanistan and the situation in the Indo-Pacific region," the person cited above said.

This will give the foreign minister the opportunity to “hold discussions with his EU counterparts on issues of mutual interest," the statement said.

The Slovenia stop will also allow Jaishankar to attend the Bled Strategic Forum (BSF) meet hosted by the country and participate in the panel discussion on "Partnership for a Rules Based Order in the Indo-Pacific." Since its inception in 2006, the Forum has evolved into a leading international conference in Central and South-Eastern European region. The Indo-Pacific region is seen as a vast geo-strategic space from the eastern shores of the African continent to the west coast of the US. India, US, Japan and Australia are the countries that make up the Quad, a group of countries that are together seen as standing for the freedom of navigation and open trade routes against the backdrop of an aggressively rising China.

A third set of engagements of the minister will be his meetings with his Slovenian counterpart Anze Logar and the Slovenian leadership.

On the second leg of his visit, Jaishankar will arrive in Croatia on 3 September and hold bilateral talks with Foreign Minister Gordan Grlić Radman. He will also call on the Croatian leadership.

On the last leg of his three nation tour, Jaishankar will reach Denmark on 4 September.

During his Denmark stop, the minister “will co-chair the 4th round of the Indo-Danish Joint Commission Meeting (JCM) along with Foreign Minister Jeppe Kofod. The JCM will undertake a comprehensive review of our bilateral cooperation under the Green Strategic Partnership, which was established during the Virtual Summit (between the prime ministers of India and Denmark) in September 2020," the Indian statement said.

The announcement of the Indian foreign minister’s travel to Europe came a day after top leaders of India and the EU discussed developments in Afghanistan.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the President of the European Council Charles Michel “discussed the recent developments in Afghanistan and the implications for the region and the world," a readout from the prime minister’s office said late Tuesday.

“They unequivocally condemned the horrific terror attack at the Kabul International Airport (last week) that resulted in many casualties. They emphasized the importance of a stable and secure Afghanistan and discussed the potential role India and the EU could play in this context," the Indian statement said.

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Updated: 02 Sep 2021, 01:43 AM IST
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