Kovind to go on 3-nation tour of Central Europe

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New Delhi, Aug 31 (IANS) President Ram Nath Kovind will go on an eight-day three-nation tour of Central Europe from September 2 which will cover Cyprus, Bulgaria and the Czech Republic, a senior official said on Friday.

Briefing the media, Ruchi Ghanashyam, Secretary (West) in the External Affairs Ministry, underlined the geostrategic location of the three countries.

While Cyprus is an island nation in the Eastern Mediterranean, Bulgaria is in southeastern Europe on the Black Sea while the Czech Republic is a neighbour of Germany.

Ghanashyam said that what makes the visit important is that all three countries are members of the European Union which is a crucial trade, economic and technological partner of India.

“The three are growing at the rate of over 3.5 per cent,” she said.

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While India enjoys good relations with the three nations, each of them cooperates closely with India on multilateral forums.

Ghanshyam said Kovind will reach Cyprus on September 2 and will address members of the Indian diaspora. Cyprus has a 7,000-strong Indian diaspora.

Apart from his meetings with the Cyprus leadership, Kovind will address the House of Representatives and deliver a lecture at the Cyrus University.

Cyprus is the eighth largest investor in India and bilateral trade stands at around $8.2 billion, Ghanashyam said.

Kovind’s visit to Cyprus comes nearly eight years after then President Pratibha Patil’s trip in 2009.

Kovind will be in Bulgaria from September 4 to 6 and will address members of the small Indian community of around 250.

This will be the first presidential visit from India to Bulgaria in 15 years.

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Apart from his meetings with the Bulgarian leadership, Kovind will deliver a speech at Sofia University on “Education as an instrument of shared prosperity” on September 5, which is celebrated as Teachers Day in India.

He will also attend an India-Bulgaria business forum in which around 250 business representatives are expected to participate.

Bilateral trade between India and Bulgaria stands at around $350 million.

From Bulgaria, Kovind will go to the Czech Republic where he will hold meetings with the Czech President, Prime Minister and the head of the Chamber of Deputies.

He will also participate in an India-Czech business meeting which will be attended by 60 business representatives from each side.

The Czech Republic is the fastest growing Central European country. Bilateral trade between India and the Czech Republic stands at $1.07 billion.

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Ghanashyam said that a number of deliverables are being worked out across different sectors with each of these three countries but declined to give details.

Ashok Malik, Press Secretary to the President, said that this will be Kovind’s first state visit abroad in the second year of his tenure in office.

In the first year after becoming President in July 2017, he made state visits to 10 countries.

The President will be accompanied by Minister of State for Panchayati Raj, Agriculture and Farmers Welfare Parshottam Rupala, Rajya Sabha member Ram Shakal and Lok Sabha member Sunil Kumar Singh.

–IANS

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