Modi asks Belgian CEOs to expand ties with India beyond diamonds

Brussels, March 30 (IANS) Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Wednesday told the business leaders of Belgium that while diamonds remain India’s age-old link with their nation, new opportunities have opened up in his country, notably in IT and infrastructure.

“Diamonds are, of course, an old link between us. It provides employment to many in India. IT is another sector of promise,” the prime minister, who arrived here Wednesday morning, told the Belgian CEOs over a luncheon meeting.

According to India’s foreign office, around 2,500 Indians are based in Antwerp, dealing mainly in diamond trade.

“Today we live in an interdependent world. India offers a huge opportunity — not just a market, but also as a huge talent pool,” Modi said, and gave the examples of ports and inland waterways as areas that can offer them attractive opportunities.

The prime minister, who started his address expressing concern over terror attacks in Brussels earlier this month, said India has also been battling the menace of terorism for over 40 years.

He said India also has “ties of blood with Belgium”.

“Some 100 years ago, 130,000 soldiers from India fought in Belgium and 9,000 of them made supreme sacrifices,” he recalled and referred to the participation of Indian solders in World War I at West Flanders.

Belgians hold an annual commemoration to this sacrifice and have installed a memorial for the lost Indian soldiers in 2001 in the City of Leper.

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