Fighting terror on Modi’s agenda: envoy

Belgian Ambassador to India Jan Luykx says fighting terror would be centre-stage when Prime Minister Narendra Modi visits the country next Wednesday.

Updated - November 17, 2021 05:08 am IST

Published - March 24, 2016 12:07 am IST - NEW DELHI:

Belgian Ambassador to India Jan Luykx. File photo: Shaju John

Belgian Ambassador to India Jan Luykx. File photo: Shaju John

The terror attacks in Brussels that left at least 35 dead and 260 injured will not change Belgium’s commitment to freedoms, Belgian Ambassador to India Jan Luykx said, adding that fighting terror would be centre-stage when Prime Minister Narendra Modi visits the country next Wednesday.

“The fight against terrorism was always going to be a topic of discussion [during Mr. Modi’s visit], and certainly now will be one of the main topics of discussion,” he told The Hindu in an exclusive interview, a day after the attacks in Brussels.

Hours after the attacks on Tuesday, I >ndia confirmed that Mr. Modi would go ahead with his visit on March 30.

'Terror a common challenge'

Belgian Ambassador to India Jan Luykx has welcomed the Indian government’s announcement, hours after the attacks in Brussels, that Prime Minister Narendra Modi would go ahead with his planned visit to Brussels for bilateral talks and the EU-India summit on March 30.

In an interview to The Hindu, Mr. Luykx said Mr. Modi’s visit is a “very important one” and would enhance cooperation in several fields, including in the fight against terror and bilateral trade and investment.

Referring to the terror attacks in Brussels, he said the discussions between Mr. Modi and Belgian Prime Minister Charles Michel would be an “exchange of ideas on how to tackle these challenges. We have been confronted with this problem [of terrorism], and so has India.” The Ambassador also led a moment of silence for the victims of the attacks at the Belgian Embassy here on Wednesday.

Belgium has come under criticism from European analysts for not having more strict controls on immigration, and better policing of its neighbourhoods, especially those like Molenbeek where Muslim immigrant families of those accused of the terror attacks in Paris and Brussels lived. The criticism was repeated after the arrest of Salah Abdeslam. According to government statistics, Belgium, among EU nations, accounts for the highest number of foreign IS fighters present in Syria and Iraq. On Tuesday night, Mr. Michel said in a statement that Belgium would not compromise on its policies, and withstood pressures to declare an emergency in the country, or to suspend Internet services.

Asked whether Belgium had been inadequately prepared for the attacks despite the statistics, Mr. Luykx said: “Whenever a terrorist attack succeeds anywhere, that means they have found a way around security measures. The police have done a great work in the past, including having busted a terror ring last year in the city of Verviers [January 2015]. So it is certainly not that they aren’t capable. Of course, the challenge is huge, and it is something all European countries are facing. Now we are at the centre of Europe, don’t forget we are at the crossroads of Europe, which means that a lot of people come from Belgium, many people coming are from of different backgrounds and with different motivations.”

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