India’s PM Narendra Modi will not attend Porto summit

Indian Prime-Minister Narendra Modi (L) with Portuguese counterpart Antonio Costa (R), before the visit the Radha Krihna Temple, in Lisbon, Portugal, 24 June 2017. [EPA/ANTONIO COTRIM]

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi will not attend the EU-India summit scheduled for 8 May in Porto, a source from the Portuguese presidency of the Council of the European Union told Lusa on Monday (19 April).

“The preparatory work for the summit is going on normally, but because of the pandemic situation in India, Prime Minister Modi will not come in person to Porto,” the source said.

“We are working with the European institutions and the government of India for the summit to take place by videoconference, with the EU heads of state and government physically present in Porto,” he added.

Lisbon, New Delhi expect to restart EU-India talks in May

Portugal has said it hopes to resume negotiations on trade and investment between the EU and India at a summit between EU leaders and India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi in Porto on 8 May.

The information comes in the context of a significant worsening of the COVID-19 pandemic situation in India and hours after the British and Indian governments announced the cancellation of a visit to the country by British Prime Minister Boris Johnson.

“Given the current coronavirus situation, the prime minister, Boris Johnson will not be able to travel to India next week. Instead, prime ministers [Narendra] Modi and Johnson will speak later this month to approve and launch their ambitious plans for the future partnership between the UK and India,” a statement said.

In the past week, India has registered more than 260,000 new cases a day, and the capital, New Delhi, will go into lockdown today.

The EU-India summit, defined by Prime Minister António Costa as the “jewel in the crown” of the global aspect of the Portuguese presidency of the Council of the EU, in an interview with Lusa in January, aims to relaunch talks between the EU and India, particularly for the resumption of negotiations for an investment agreement.

Portuguese Foreign Minister Augusto Santos Silva has acknowledged it had not yet been decided whether the EU-India Summit would be face-to-face or virtual, but stressed that one way or another, he hoped it would have “substantive results” in strengthening cooperation.

“At this stage of preparation, it can be said that this meeting will have substantive results and we are working so that the various possible areas of cooperation between the EU and India are duly enriched,” said Santos Silva, speaking on behalf of the Portuguese presidency of the Council.

Santos Silva, who was speaking at the end of the meeting of EU foreign affairs ministers by video conference, highlighted “cooperation in the area of digital connectivity, transport, communications or human mobility, but also in the economic dimension of this relationship and also the sharing, by the EU and India, of the various multilateral agendas and the promotion of multilateralism.

The Council of the EU, currently chaired by Portugal, today adopted conclusions on the strategy for cooperation with the Indo-Pacific region, advocating stability and an “open and fair” environment for trade and investment.

[Edited by Josie Le Blond]

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