External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar has highlighted the need for direct air connectivity between India and Portugal to expand bilateral exchanges, as he addressed the Indian diaspora in Portugal during his ongoing tour of Europe.
Mr. Jaishankar, who was here on the first leg of his four-day visit to Portugal and Italy, was joined by his Portuguese counterpart, Joao Gomes Cravinho, during his meeting with the community on Wednesday.
During his address, Mr. Jaishankar said he highlighted the contribution of Portugal towards closer ties between India and the European Union (EU) and also shared the transformation underway in India.
“Addressed the Indian Community in Portugal. Thank FM @JoaoCravinho for joining,” Mr. Jaishankar posted on X.
“Highlighted Portugal’s contribution in promoting closer India-EU ties. The Porto 2021 Summit is a milestone. Recognised the relevance of the Migration and Mobility Partnership in a Global workplace,” he said.
50th anniversary of ties
“Appreciated the need for direct air connectivity. Shared the transformation underway in India that provides new opportunities for cooperation. Urged the community to contribute to the 50th anniversary celebrations of our diplomatic ties,” he added.
On November 1, Mr. Jaishankar discussed “contemporary challenges” and the further development of bilateral ties with Prime Minister Antonio Costa.
“We see a lot of new energy and activities across several sectors. Trade and investment is clearly a strong driving force. Indian companies like Indian IT companies, especially, have made their mark in Portugal,” Mr. Jaishankar said as part of the joint press statement with Portugal’s Foreign Minister on Tuesday.
Mr. Jaishankar said the Joint Economic Committee would be asked to follow up on some of the discussions that the two leaders had and “see what more we could do in health, pharmaceuticals, renewable energy.”
“We also discussed defence cooperation, start-ups, and innovation as well. There was some talk between us on direct air connectivity because that is today a missing piece in the relationship,” he said.
“We're very confident that our exchanges will expand once we can make progress on that. And both of us put a lot of weight on the development of tourism, and that too would grow with direct air connectivity.”
The two sides reviewed the implementation of the Agreement on the recruitment of Indian citizens to work in Portugal.
"I do want to say that we have always regarded Portugal as one of our key partners in the European Union. The first-ever India-EU Summit was actually held in 2000 under the Portuguese presidency. The first-ever India-EU at a 27 leadership Summit was also held in 2021 under the Portuguese presidency," the joint statement quoted Mr. Jaishankar as saying.
"So we count very much on the Portuguese support for our FTA negotiations with the EU that are underway," he said.