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EU committed to a FTA with India: Tomasz Kozlowski

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New Delhi, Feb 6 (PTI) The European Union is committed to conclude a free trade agreement with India and the two sides are making efforts to update their positions on various issues relating to the pact, its envoy Tomasz Kozlowski said today.

Identifying terrorism as a common concern for India and the EU, Kozlowski said the heads of different services of Europol - the EU's law enforcement cooperation agency - were in India to interact with their counterparts in the country, post the 14th India-EU Summit organised in October last year.

But when asked about China blocking India's bid to designate Jaish-e-Mohammad chief Masood Azhar a UN-designated terrorist, the EU envoy to India did not give a direct answer.

"Our perspective is that we declare it at international fora and (in) bilateral relations with our partners that we are against terrorism in any form or manifestations. We agreed with India to cooperate on designation listing and we will do it," he said.

During the October summit, India and EU had adopted a 'Joint Statement on Cooperation in Combating Terrorism', which sought to deepen their strategic and security cooperation.

Kozlowski said discussions were underway between Euratom and India's Department of Atomic Energy for an agreement on research and development on peaceful use of nuclear energy.

Talks are also progressing between the EU and the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) for a pact on cooperation in the area of earth observation, the envoy said.

An MoU in this connection could be signed in "coming months", he said in an interaction with reporters here.

After the 14th India-EU Summit in October, Kozlowski said the two sides decided to step up efforts to re-engage to relaunch negotiations. The EU's chief negotiators for the FTA met the Indian side informally in November.

"The European Union is committed to negotiate and conclude Free Trade Agreement, both trade and investment agreement, with India. We are committed to that," he said.

"And now, we have a series of contacts at experts level discussing different aspects of the possible agreement. The next meeting of chief negotiators will be held soon. We are very much engaged in the process of discussing a possible agreement," Kozlowski said.

He said a number of expert-level meetings are being held, including via video-conferencing, to discuss "specific problems and issues" and there will be another meet soon.

The objective of this process is not take a stock of what has been discussed but it is to "update each other" on their positions, interests related to specific issues, he added.

Talks for an India-EU FTA began in 2007. However, the negotiations were put on hold in 2013. The matter came up for discussion during the 14th India-EU Summit held in Delhi.

In the joint statement issued then, the two sides had expressed their shared commitment to strengthen the economic partnership between India and the EU. They noted the ongoing efforts from both the sides to re-engage actively to relaunch negotiations for a comprehensive and mutually beneficial India-EU Broad Based Trade and Investment Agreement (BTIA).

The EU is one of India's largest trading partners and in 2016 the bilateral trade volume clocked 100 billion euros.

On interaction between Indian security agencies and the Europol, Kozlowski said it was agreed during the last summit that the two sides will facilitate contacts between appropriate institutions from the European side dealing with terrorism and cyber crime.

"As a result, a number of visits from Europol were conducted and dialogue and contacts with appropriate Indian agencies were established," he said. PTI PR ABH

Disclaimer: This story has not been edited by BW staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.

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