External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj left for a four-nation official visit to Italy, France, Luxembourg and Belgium on 17 June. She will be touring the European Union countries till 23 June. The four are among the six nations which formed the European Economic Community, the predecessor to EU, in 1957.
Her first stop will be Italy, which will mark the first major political exchange between India and Italy following the swearing in of Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte on 1 June.
Swaraj will call on Conte and also meet her counterpart Enzo Moavero Milanesi. The two leaders will review the bilateral relations between India and Italy.
The EAM will then head for France where she will review bilateral ties between the European giant and India with French Minister Europe and Foreign Affairs Jean-Yves Le Drian. This will be the first visit by a top-level Indian government minister to France since the March visit of French President Emmanuel Macron to India.
India and France are celebrating the 20th anniversary of their Strategic Partnership. Swaraj will also be the Chief Guest at the naming ceremony of the Indian Culture Centre. She will also interact with the Indian community.
Her two-day visit to Luxembourg on 19 and 20 June will be the first ever by an Indian External Affairs Minister. Her visit coincides with the 70th year of establishment of diplomatic relations between the two countries.
During her visit, Swaraj will be calling on the Grand Duke of Luxembourg Henri Albert Gabriel Félix Marie Guillaume and Prime Minister Xavier Bettel. She will also have meetings with Jean Asselborn, Minister of Foreign and European Affairs and Pierre Gramegna, the Minister of Finance. In Luxembourg, EAM will also interact with the Indian community.
Swaraj will cap off her four-nation tour with a three-day visit to Belgium. The Minister, who will be in Brussels from 20-23 June, will be meeting the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs of Belgium Didier Reynders.
Brussels being the headquarters of the European Union, the EAM will be calling on the President of the European Commission Jean-Claude Juncker and the President of the European Parliament Antonio Tajani.
Swaraj will also be meeting with her counterpart, Federica Mogherini, the High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy/Vice President of the European Commission to review the entire gamut of India-EU relations.
Swaraj is scheduled to 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 in Brussels.
The MEA said that her visit to the four nations 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 our growing strategic engagement with the European Union.