Sat, 01 Apr 2023

New Delhi [India], February 1 (ANI): European Union's Ambassador to India and Bhutan Ugo Astuto on Wednesday met a visiting delegation of Germany's parliamentarians in New Delhi. They discussed European Union-India strategic ties and prospects ahead.

"Happy to meet the visiting delegation of Germany's parliamentarians. We discussed European Union-India strategic ties and prospects ahead," Astuto tweeted on Wednesday.

Astuto recently said that the fourth round of talks on a Free Trade Agreement (FTA) between India and the European Union is expected around March 2023 in Europe.

The envoy said while speaking to ANI that it is a broad, ambitious, and comprehensive Free Trade Agreement and the European Union is determined to pursue its objective as it would be beneficial to both sides.

"Past a few years ago the relationship, the strategic partnership has been gaining considerable momentum. Let me mark here, in particular, the summit in Porto in 2021, where the decision was taken to relaunch negotiation for Free Trade Agreement, as well as negotiation, for an Investment Protection Agreement on Geographical indication. I think that was a very significant Landmark", he said.

"We have had three rounds of negotiations. The fourth one is expected around March in Europe. The last one was here in Delhi. The decision to restart the FTA was a unanimous decision taken by all the 27 EU leaders and together with Prime Minister Modi at the Porto Summit. So, we have a very strong political mandate given by our political leadership, he added.

Calling the discussions 'constructive' the envoy added that the Free Trade Agreement is broad, ambitious and comprehensive.

"The discussions taking place have been constructive, but we should not hide that it is a very complex negotiation. It's a broad, ambitious, and comprehensive Free Trade Agreement and obviously, it's a complex endeavour but we are determined to pursue its objective, as we believe it would be beneficial to both sides", he said.

Last June, India and the EU formally relaunched negotiations toward a free trade agreement, after nearly a decades-long pause in talks.

Talking about India's G20 Presidency at a time when there is global turmoil due to the Russia-Ukraine conflict, the envoy called India an 'influential voice' and said that India in its G20 Presidency has presented a very ambitious agenda of a number of items of great interest to all participants and it will indeed manage to drive the group towards fruitful discussions.

"India is a very influential voice. At the same time, unfortunately, we are not living in a business-as-usual situation. Very soon it is going to be one year since the Russian invasion of Ukraine, a blatant violation of international law. So, what the European Union is trying to do is to isolate the Russian leadership and impose sanctions as it can affect the ability of the Kremlin to continue its military operation," Astuto told ANI. (ANI)

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