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Transcript of Sound-bite by Foreign Secretary on PM’s bilateral engagements on the morning of 01 December 2018

December 02, 2018

Foreign Secretary, Shri Vijay Gokhale: Prime Minister has had a number of important bilateral engagements since this morning. We began the morning by an invitation from the President of Argentina to our Prime Minister to have breakfast with him at his residence. This is a very special gesture that has been made by the Argentine President for our Prime Minister.

They had a very good discussion, the discussion principally focused around agricultural food processing, agro technologies and how Argentina could help India in the cold chain, in value addition to agriculture and also in making greater agriculture exports to India.

There were some discussion on energy as well including on the possibility of Indian companies investing and cooperating in lithium mines in Argentina.

The Argentine President is keen to make an official visit to India in 2019 and Prime Minister has invited him to make a visit next year. The dates would be discussed through diplomatic channels.

Thereafter the Prime Minister had a meeting with President Cyril Ramaphosa of South Africa, it was a very warm meeting. Prime Minister official extended an invitation to President Ramaphosa to be the Chief Guest for India’s Republic Day in January 2019 and President Ramaphosa has accepted the invitation with pleasure.

In fact he told the Prime Minister that we would like to make solid preparations from the business perspective, from cooperation in science and technology to cooperation in a number of other areas in order to ensure that his visit is fruitful, successful and it leads to tangible outcomes.

So we will now prepare for President Ramaphosa’s visit to India to participate in the Republic Day celebrations and also from the bilateral angle.

Thereafter the Prime Minister also had very successful meetings with the Chancellor of Germany and the Prime Minister of the Netherlands. With German Chancellor, Angela Merkel they had an extensive discussion on the state of the world and both leaders agreed that as important economies, as important political entities, as important diplomatic players, both India and Germany must work together to strengthen multilateralism, to strengthen the role of United Nations, to strengthen the multilateral processes that allow for global trading, that allow for global financial flows and they agreed to stay in touch in this regard.

With the Dutch Prime Minister Rutte, the Prime Minister discussed how we can use technologies relating to water management, technologies relating to sustainable handling of climate change effects for which Netherlands is known and Prime Minister also referred to his dream project of building 100 waterways in India and the two leaders agreed to stay in touch in this regard. They also had some discussion on regional and international issues.

The Prime Minister also had a meeting with the President of the European Commission and the President of the European Council earlier this morning. Among the major issues that were discussed was trade.

The European leaders hoped that we could move ahead with the free trade negotiations. The Prime Minister assured them that India was committed to this but that it has to be a balanced outcome and that it is important that the sensitivities and requirements of Indian industries and business are also taken into account while arriving into a reasonable trade agreement and that no pre-condition should be place for this purpose.

Prime Minister also expressed the hope that Indian companies would be given data adequacy status in line with the European Union’s data protection regulations which have recently come in to force.

The other area which the Prime Minister touched on in general with the leaders of the European Union as well as with the Prime Minister of Netherlands and the Chancellor of Germany was the issue of jointly combating terrorism which is a global phenomenon and what Prime Minister heard from all these leaders was the categorical assurance that they stood with India in the global fight against terrorism, that they would work with India to ensure that terrorism is eliminated.

So all in all it has been a good round of meetings in the morning. Several other bilateral meetings are lined up later in the day and the Prime Minister will also participate in the final session of G20 before he departs for New Delhi later this afternoon.

Thank you.

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