Danish PM's visit put off

Anders Fogh Rasmussen  

Special Correspondent

Timing not optimal, says External Affairs Ministry spokesman

NEW DELHI: The visit of Danish Prime Minister Anders Fogh Rasmussen to India has been put off in the backdrop of the controversy over the cartoons of Prophet Muhammed in a Danish newspaper. Mr. Rasmussen was scheduled to arrive here in the first week of April.

In a statement on Saturday, the External Affairs Ministry spokesman said India and Denmark had found that the timing of the visit "was not optimal." The statement did not refer to the controversy.

"India and Denmark look forward to the visit of the Danish PM [Prime Minister] to India at an early date," the spokesman said.

(The Danish leader had been involved in a controversy over his remarks on Kashmir at a press conference with the then Prime Minister, A.B. Vajpayee, in October 2002 during the third Indo-European summit in Copenhagen.) The spokesman said the Indo-Danish relationship was "strong and excellent" and moving into a new phase that was focused on political dialogue and economic cooperation instead of the decades-old development cooperation agenda, phased out by the end of 2005.

"India and Denmark will continue to establish a new cooperation framework in areas of mutual interest like ICT [information communication technology], biotechnology, maritime transport, double taxation and the establishment of a joint commission."