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India, EU to discuss healthcare cooperation and ways to boost economic ties

·2-min read

New Delhi, May 6 (PTI) Prime Minister Narendra Modi will participate in a virtual meeting with the heads of all the 27 European Union (EU) member states on Saturday and the grouping met in such a format only once before with US President Joe Biden in March, according to the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA).

The MEA said the leaders will exchange views on the COVID-19 pandemic, healthcare cooperation, ways to strengthen the India-EU economic partnership as well as regional and global issues of mutual interest.

The MEA said the leaders' meeting will be a 'significant political milestone' and will further build on the momentum in the ties between the two sides.

'The prime minister will participate in the meeting along with the Heads of State or Government of all the 27 EU Member States. The EU+27 have met in this format only once before, with the US President in March this year,' it said in a statement.

The MEA said Modi will participate in the meeting of the European Council on Saturday as a special invitee at the invitation of the President of the council, Charles Michel.

It said the India-EU leaders' meeting will be hosted by Portuguese Prime Minister Antonio Costa. Portugal currently holds the presidency of the council of the EU.

'The leaders will exchange views on the COVID-19 pandemic and healthcare cooperation, fostering sustainable and inclusive growth, strengthening the India-EU economic partnership as well as regional and global issues of mutual interest,' the MEA said.

'The India-EU leaders' meeting is an unprecedented opportunity for discussion with all the leaders of the EU member states. It is a significant political milestone and will further build on the momentum witnessed in the relationship since the 15th India-EU Summit in July 2020,' it said.

Modi was scheduled to visit Portugal for the leaders' meeting, but it was called off in view of the coronavirus crisis and both sides decided to hold the deliberations virtually.

The EU is a strategically important grouping for India.

The EU as a whole was India's largest trading partner in 2018. India's bilateral trade with the EU in 2018-19 stood at USD 115.6 billion with exports valued at USD 57.17 billion and imports worth USD 58.42 billion.

In the 15th India-EU summit in July last year, Modi had pitched for bringing out an 'action-oriented' agenda to further expand the ties between the two sides. PTI MPB RC

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