Rome: Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Friday held wide-ranging talks with the top leaders of the European Union here during which the two sides discussed deepening the India-EU friendship, particularly in areas such as trade, commerce, culture and the environment.

Prime Minister Modi, who arrived here earlier in the day to participate in the G20 Summit, began his official engagements in Rome with a productive interaction with President of the European Council Charles Michel and President of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen.

“Official engagements in Rome begin with a productive interaction with @eucopresident Charles Michel and @vonderleyen , President of the @EU_Commission. The leaders discussed ways to enhance economic as well as people-to-people linkages aimed at creating a better planet, the Prime Minister Office tweeted.

Later, Modi described his meeting with the EU leaders as wonderful .

“Wonderful meeting with @EU_Commission President @vonderleyen and @eucopresident Charles Michel. We had wide-ranging talks on deepening the India-EU friendship, particularly in areas such as trade, commerce, culture and the environment, Modi tweeted after the meeting.

In a tweet, European Council President Michel said India has a key role to play in the green transition.

“India has a key role to play in green transition. We discussed global health and fighting the pandemic, the strong EU-India Strategic Partnership, the situation in Afghanistan and the Indo-Pacific, he said, amid China flexing muscles in the region.

European Commission President Leyen said it was good to meet Prime Minister Modi.

Good to meet @narendramodi. Our strategic agenda is on the right track. We agreed that our trade negotiators will start to work. We ll deepen our cooperation on climate including on innovation & technology Looking forward to cooperating in the Indo-Pacific, she said in a tweet.

She also congratulated India for its excellent progress on vaccination and for resuming vaccines exports. We need to join forces to help vaccinate the world and beat the global pandemic, Leyen said.

Her remarks came as India achieved a major milestone in its vaccination programme against COVID-19 as the cumulative vaccine doses administered in the country surpassed the 100-crore mark last week.

After their meeting, Ministry of External Affairs spokesperson Arindam Bagchi said that they held extensive discussions on a number of key issues.

“Deepening ties between India and EU! PM @narendramodi met European Council President Charles Michel @eucopresident & European Commission President @vonderleyen. An extensive discussion covering trade & investment ties, climate change, COVID-19, global & regional developments, Bagchi said on Twitter.

Later, Prime Minister Modi paid floral tributes at the bust of Mahatma Gandhi in Rome.

“In Rome, I had the opportunity to pay homage to Mahatma Gandhi, whose ideals give courage and inspiration to millions globally, Modi said.

The 15th India-EU summit was held in a virtual mode in July 2020, which was attended by Prime Minister Modi, European Council President Michel and European Commission President Leyen.

In 2020, India was the EU’s 10th largest trading partner accounting for 1.8 per cent of EU’s total bilateral trade in goods. India-EU bilateral trade in goods in 2020 was valued at Euro 65.30 billion.

India-EU bilateral relations date back to the early 1960s with India being amongst the first countries to establish diplomatic relations with the European Economic Community in 1962.

The first India-EU Summit took place on 28 June 2000 in Lisbon. The relationship was upgraded to a Strategic Partnership’ during the 5th India-EU Summit held in 2004 in The Hague.

The EU is a political and economic bloc comprising 27 member states located primarily in Europe.

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