India and the European Union exchanged notes for a closer security partnership in intelligence sharing and anti-piracy operations during EU High Representative for foreign affairs and security policy Catherine Ashton's two-day interaction with top Indian policy makers here.

To impart a strategic dimension to the partnership, Ms. Ashton termed counter-terrorism a ‘significant feature of EU-India security cooperation' with both sides discussing the progress made on cooperation between the European Police Office and India.

In discussions with National Security Advisor Shiv Shankar Menon, Ms. Ashton touched upon the possibility of India joining the ‘fusion centres' in which all the relevant organisations and agencies interact. The EU official felt exchange of intelligence and face-to-face meeting with officials had become more important in the light of US President Barak Obama's intention of reducing forces in Afghanistan from next year. She cited the example of the September 11, 2001 attacks when most of the information necessary to forestall the attack was available in the security, intelligence and law enforcement systems but was not properly put together.

In anti-piracy operations, a working relationship has been established between the EU Naval Force and India to facilitate the programming of patrols and escorts. During her meetings with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and External Affairs Minister S M Krishna, the EU official appreciated India's rebuilding and capacity enhancement efforts in Afghanistan and said it mirrored what the EU was attempting to do.

“We would also like to deepen the dialogue we have with India on regional issues, including on Afghanistan, Pakistan and Sri Lanka. We recognise the efforts made to have channels of communication open between India and Pakistan,'' she added.

With Minister for Overseas Affairs Vyalar Ravi, Ms. Ashton discussed the migration of Indians to the EU and the prospects of a labour mobility pact which will set out the areas of cooperation in labour market expansion, employment facilitation, orderly migration, exchange of information and cooperation in introducing best practices.

Keywords: European Union

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