India's Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has hailed a European Union proposal to forge a strategic partnership with India.

Mr. Singh told reporters the move is a recognition of India's growing stature and influence and India welcomes the development.

The prime minister said the 25-nation EU is India's largest trading partner and the largest source of foreign direct investment.

He described the European Union and India as "natural partners" and said his talks with European leaders would include terrorism, nuclear proliferation, energy and global trade issues.

He made the remarks as he embarked on a two-day visit to Netherlands. There, Mr. Singh is scheduled to hold talks with his Dutch counterpart, Jan Peter Balkenende, and meet separately with European Commission President Romano Prodi.

If the EU proposal goes through, it will give India the special relationship now shared by the Union with the United States, Canada, Russia, China and Japan.

Some information for this report provided by AFP and AP.