External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj on Sunday left for a seven-day tour of Italy, France, Luxembourg and Belgium, which is aimed at deepening India’s strategic engagement and trade ties with the four European countries.
In Brussels, Ms. Swaraj will meet the top leadership of the European Union during which both sides are likely to deliberate on removing hurdles for resumption of negotiations on the long-pending E.U.-India free trade pact.
The visit from June 17-23 will provide an opportunity to hold in-depth discussions with the political leadership on a wide range of global, regional and bilateral issues and advance India’s growing strategic engagement with the European Union, the Ministry of External Affairs said.
In the first leg of her visit, Ms. Swaraj will travel to Italy for the first major political exchange between the two countries after Giuseppe Conte assumed charge as the Italian Prime Minister.
Ms. Swaraj will call on Mr. Conte and also meet her counterpart, Enzo Moavero Milanesi.
The External Affairs Minister will then travel on June 18 to France where she will spend two days.
In Paris, Ms. Swaraj will meet her counterpart, Jean-Yves Le Drian and the two sides will review the bilateral relations.
India and France are celebrating the 20th anniversary of their Strategic Partnership.
Ms. Swaraj will be in Luxembourg from June 19-20 and it will be the first-ever visit there by an Indian External Affairs Minister, the MEA said.
During her stay, Ms. Swaraj will be calling on Grand Duke of Luxembourg Henri Albert Gabriel Félix Marie Guillaume and Prime Minister Xavier Bettel.
“Ms. Swaraj will also have meetings with Jean Asselborn, Minister of Foreign and European Affairs and Pierre Gramegna, the Minister of Finance. In Luxembourg, she will also interact with the Indian community,” the MEA said.
On the last leg of her tour, Ms. Swaraj will visit Belgium from June 20-23.
In Brussels, she will meet Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs of Belgium Didier Reynders.
She will also meet president of the European Commission Jean-Claude Juncker and president of the European Parliament Antonio Tajani.
The MEA said Ms. Swaraj will also meet her counterpart, Federica Mogherini, the High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, to review the entire gamut of India-EU relations.
She will also deliver a keynote speech at the high-level event — ‘Climate, Peace and Security: Time for Action’, lead the International Yoga Day celebrations at the European Parliament and also interact with the Indian community, the MEA said.