India, Spain commit cooperation in fight against terrorism (Roundup)

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Madrid, May 31 (IANS) India and Spain on Wednesday committed to cooperate in the fight against terrorism calling it the gravest threat to international peace and stability even as the two sides expressed the need to restart negotiations for an EU-India Broad-based Trade and Investment Agreement (BITA).

“Both India and Spain have faced terrorism,” Prime Minister Narendra Modi said while addressing the media ahead of talks with his Spanish counterpart Mariano Rajoy at La Moncloa, the official residence of the Spanish Prime Minister.

“Terrorism and extremism pose the biggest challenge to the world today,” Modi said.

“Strengthening cooperation between us in the fight against terrorism is a key element of our bilateral agenda.”

A joint statement issued following the meeting between the two leaders said both “recognised that terrorism poses the gravest threat to international peace and stability and expressed their strong commitment to combat terrorism in all its forms and manifestations”.

“They stressed that there should be zero tolerance to terrorism and that there can be no justification whatsoever for any act of terror,” it stated.

“We reiterate that the fight against terrorism requires a robust international cooperation, and we call on all the states to fully implement SC (UN Security Council) Resolution 1373 and all other relevant SC Resolutions, by establishing strong legal provisions against terrorism, terrorist networks, incitement to terrorism and financing for terrorism, and by satisfying requests from other states for cooperation against terrorism.”

According to the statement, Modi and Rajoy “expressed their strong commitment to reinforce their cooperation in the fight against terrorism, through regular bilateral consultations and cooperation and in the international fora”.

The two leaders also called on the international community to end selective or partial approaches to combating terrorism and in this regard jointly called for the early finalisation and adoption of the India-initiated Comprehensive Convention on International Terrorism by the UN General Assembly.

Modi and Rajoy underlined the importance of European Union (EU)-India relations and the need to deepen the existing EU-India dialogues.

“They acknowledged the positive results of 2016 EU-India Summit in March 2016, which marked a new momentum in the EU-India relations,” the statement said.

“They addressed the shared interest of the two sides to further engage on the India-EU Broad-based Trade and Investment Agreement and expressed the need to restart negotiations soon.”

The BITA has been hanging fire for 11 years despite 16 rounds of negotiations. In 2012, EU member states handed over responsibility for investment protection agreements to the European Commission.

Stating that Spain had made rapid strides in its economy, Modi in his address to the media said his government’s top priority too was India’s economic growth and development.

He said Spain can offer its expertise to India’s development priorities like railways, smart cities and infrastructure.

The Prime Minister later also held a round-table interaction with CEOs of Spanish business and industry. There are around 200 Spanish companies operating in India.

According to the joint statement, the CEOs expressed strong support for the economic reforms in India and highlighted their keen interest to participate actively in flagship programmes like Make in India, Smart Cities, Digital India, Swachh Bharat, Start-up India and Skill India.

Rajoy congratulated Modi on India’s fast economic growth and the Indian government’s various measures to improve ease of doing business and boost manufacturing growth.

“Both leaders agreed on the need to preserve and further develop open trade and a business friendly investment scenario in both countries, and considered that policies towards protectionism may weaken international trade and have a negative impact in global economy,” the joint statement said.

As part of his day’s engagements in Spain, Modi also called on Spanish King Felipe VI at the Palacio de la Zarzuela on the outskirts of Madrid.

Modi arrived here from Germany on Tuesday on the second leg of his six-day, four-nation tour of Europe that will also take him to Russia and France.

This is the first Indian Prime Ministerial visit to Spain in nearly 30 years since Rajiv Gandhi came here in 1988.

–IANS

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