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India, Chile discuss free trade pact

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Ties to the fore: Prime Minister Manmohan Singh with Chilean President Michelle Bachelet in New Delhi on Tuesday.
Ties to the fore: Prime Minister Manmohan Singh with Chilean President Michelle Bachelet in New Delhi on Tuesday.

Special Correspondent

Michelle Bachelet, Manmohan reiterate commitment to U.N. reforms

NEW DELHI: India and Chile have decided to diversify and deepen ties by exploring the possibility of a free trade agreement (FTA), initiating steps to expand defence cooperation and intensifying scientific ties, especially with respect to Antarctica.

In the international sphere, visiting President of Chile Michelle Bachelet reiterated her country’s support for India’s permanent membership on an expanded U.N. Security Council (UNSC). Both sides also confirmed their reciprocal support for each other’s candidature for non-permanent membership of the UNSC for 2011-12 (India) and 2014-15 (Chile).

During a meeting with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, the leaders reiterated their commitment to multilateralism in the international sphere and a comprehensive reform of the U.N., including expansion of the Security Council to make it more legitimate and effective.

Dr. Bachelet noted that the Preferential Trade Agreement (PTA) between Chile and India had helped bilateral trade cross $2.3 billion. Both the leaders took interest in exploring the feasibility of entering into an FTA and were satisfied that the process of broadening and deepening the existing PTA had been initiated.

It was also decided to strengthen cooperation in information technology and biotechnology.

Dr. Bachelet called on President Pratibha Patil and interacted with Vice-President Hamid Ansari, External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee, Leader of the Opposition in the Lok Sabha L.K. Advani and chairperson of the United Progressive Alliance Sonia Gandhi.

Aiming to double trade in five years, Chile has decided to open a commercial office at its embassy here, Dr. Bachelet said at a luncheon organised by the chambers of commerce and industry. Defence attachés had been posted in New Delhi and Santiago.

Both sides agreed to pursue cooperation in the Antarctica, with Chile inviting India to join it in its next Antarctica expedition’s ice coring research project. India responded by announcing plans to host a joint conference on polar science.

To strengthen educational ties, Dr. Bachelet will visit Chennai to preside over the signing of a memorandum of understanding (MoU) between the University of Madras and the Universidad de Talca on Friday. She will travel to Agra and Mumbai before proceeding for Chennai.

The two sides signed documents in areas of new and renewable energy, education, exploration and utilisation of outer space for peaceful purposes and geology and mineral resources.


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