Potential for India-EU bilateral ties huge: European Council chief

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Brussels, Dec. 10 (ANI): The president of the European Council, Herman van Rompuy, on Friday, expressed satisfaction with both the substance and the quality of discussions and decisions taken at the 11th EU-India Summit held here with an Indian delegation led by Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh.

Praising Dr. Singh's leadership and vision, Rompuy said both sides had a very intense and productive plenary session during which they reviewed the whole spectrum of bilateral, regional and global issues.

He said the two sides had accepted that there was enormous potential for bilateral relations to grow, and the necessity of bring the strategic partnership launched in 2004 to a higher level.

"Today, we have opened a brand new chapter of political cooperation in the defence and security fields. We have in particular agreed on the need to step up together in the fight against international terrorism. The London, Madrid and Mumbai attacks showed that terrorism knows no boundaries and that a common response is essential," Rompuy said.

He said that the Joint Declaration on Counter Terrorism signalled a clear commitment in this regard.

Describing the EU as the first India export destination and India as the ninth EU export destination, Rompuy said it was not enough to have an overall trade turnover of 52 billions Euro.

"We believe it is not enough, particularly as in a still-difficult economic situation and where fiscal and budgetary policies are limited, free trade is a powerful engine in those circumstances to promote sustainable economic growth in two of the largest world economies, where more than one and half billion people live," he said.

He also said that as and when the India-EU Free Trade Agreement is inked, it would be the biggest agreement concluded by the EU and one of the biggest bilateral agreements ever.

He also reiterated the EU's commitment to a stable, peaceful and inclusive Afghanistan and underlined the need for a safe, secure, stable and prosperous Pakistan as well.

"India and the EU are natural partners. We share the same core values of democracy, rule of law, respect of human rights. The strategic partnership that binds EU and India will be instrumental in reaching the shared interests for freedom, peace and security in all parts of the world," he concluded. By Smita Prakash (ANI)

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