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EU, India Summit Ends with Call to Boost Trade, Political Ties - 2001-11-23

A two-day summit between India and the European Union has concluded in New Delhi with a call to boost trade and political ties. Leaders of the two sides also called for decisive measures to tackle terrorism.

European Union leaders said Friday the summit meeting with New Delhi helped carry the relationship between the two sides into "higher gear. The meeting was scheduled before September 11, but the subsequent events became the center of political discussions.

In a joint declaration at the end of the summit, India and the European Union said there can be no religious, ethnic or ideological justification for terrorism, and said all states must prevent the use of their territory for sponsoring terrorist acts. Indian Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee said both sides agreed to coordinate their responses to terrorism. "We agreed that terrorism anywhere and in any form must be rooted out completely," he said.

European Union leaders also urged India to promote stability in South Asia by negotiating with Pakistan to settle their dispute over Kashmir.

The two sides also called for the formation of a broad-based government in Afghanistan. Belgian Prime Minister Guy Verhofstadt, who holds the European Union's rotating presidency elaborated. "We are saying that the Afghan people deserve a government which is independent, which is broadbased, which is multiethnic and which is truly representative and which responds to their needs and aspirations and respects the legitimate security interests of all countries concerned," he said.

Trade and business were also a key focus of the European delegation. Although the European Union is India's biggest trading partner, the economic relationship between them is considered weak with India accounting for just one percent of total European Union exports.

The European delegation called for greater trading opportunities with India asking New Delhi to give greater access to markets. New Delhi in turn asked Europe to reduce quotas and duties on Indian exports.

The two sides identified four key areas for improving trade, food processing, engineering, telecommunications, and information technology.

From New Delhi, the European delegation travels on to Islamabad for discussions on the future of Afghanistan with Pakistani leaders.