India,Netherlands sign agreements for cultural cooperation

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New Delhi, Oct 24 (UNI) India and the Netherlands today signed two agreements to step up cultural cooperation between the two countries.

The agreements were signed after discussions between visiting Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh here on ways to strengthen bilateral relations, particularly in the fields of culture, trade and economy.

The first agreement was signed by Tourism and Culture Minister Ambika Soni and Netherlands Foreign Minister M J M Verhagen and the second by ICCR Director General Pavan Verma and Chairman of the Stichting Amsterdam-India Festival (AIF) Simon Reinink.

Queen Beatrix who arrived here on Monday night on a four-day visit to India, her first in 21 years, met President Pratibha Patil, Vice President Hamid Ansari, Minister of State for External Affairs Anand Sharma and leader of opposition L K Advani during the day.

The Queen is accompanied by Prince of Orange William-Alexander, his spouse Princess Maxima, Foreign Minister M J M Verhagen and a high-level business delegation.

An economic mission, led by Minister of Economic Affairs Maria van der Hoeven, and CEOs of top Dutch companies are also accompanying her.

The companies would attend CEOs forum, interacting with Indian business and industry leaders.

Queen Beatrix is visiting India after 21 years, first visit as Queen being in January 1986.

Contacts between India and the Netherlands go back several centuries.

''Bilateral economic and commercial relations are vibrant with areas of common interest including transort and logistics infrastructure, water management, environment, agriculture and food processing, services snd technology,'' an External Affairs Ministry spokesman said.

Bilateral trade doubled in the last five years reaching 2.771 Billion US Dollars in 2006. Netherlands is the fourth largest investor in India.

''The visit of the Queen is expected to give impetus to the overall growth of bilaeral relations,'' the spokesman added.


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