With China eyeing developments in the European Union (EU) for its own strategic interests; Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi made an attempt to boost ties with Spain – a member of the third largest economy (EU).
On the second leg of his ongoing four-nation Europe tour, the Indian premier met his Spanish counterpart Mariano Rajoy at the Moncloa Palace in Madrid on Wednesday to discuss various aspects of bilateral ties. They also discussed the current regional and global geopolitical scenario. Apart from signing seven agreements, the two countries decided to counter terrorism together and to strengthen defence co-operation. The seven accords included agreements on cyber security and transfer of sentenced persons, and five MoUs on co-operation in organ transplantation, cyber security, renewable energy, civil aviation and another one between India’s Foreign Service Institute and Diplomatic Academy of Spain. PM Rajoy assured his Indian guest that Madrid would boost co-operation with New Delhi not just at the bilateral level, but also in global forums, like G-20.
Speaking at a joint press conference, the Spanish premier said that it would be important for both the countries to conclude civil nuclear deal as soon as possible. As far as the bilateral nuclear deal is concerned, Modi and Rajoy acknowledged the progress made in the negotiations held in Madrid on May 23. The PMs also asked their defence ministers to make serious efforts in order to conclude the deal soon. “Both leaders welcomed efforts to further co-operation…in the advanced aerospace sector. It will include participation of the Spanish defence industry in the ‘Make in India’ programme for the Indian defence market and third country exports,” said the Indo-Spanish joint statement following the talks.
As the Modi-Rajoy talks were happening against the backdrop of Kabul attacks that claimed 90 lives on Wednesday, the two premiers stressed the importance of counter-terrorism measures and de-radicalisation of youths. “We reiterate that the fight against terrorism requires a robust international co-operation, and we call on all states to fully implement SC Resolution 1373 and all other relevant SC Resolutions,” added the statement.
The Indian and Spanish PMs further urged China to resolve disputes in the strategic South China Sea in accordance with the universally recognised principles of international law. In a statement that could anger the Asian giant, Modi and Rajoy underlined the importance of freedom of navigation in international waters, the right of passage and other maritime rights and obligations in accordance with the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea. They also expressed serious concern about North Korea’s nuclear weapons and ballistic missile programmes, insisting that Pyongyang should fully comply with its international obligations and commitments.
Before leaving for St Petersburg (to attend the 18th India-Russia annual bilateral summit), the visiting Indian PM invited Spanish firms to invest in India, saying that the ‘strong’ Indian economy offers ‘many opportunities’ for them in various fields. In St Petersburg, Modi held talks with Russian President Vladimir Putin on Thursday evening. Amidst concerns over growing proximity between Russia and Pakistan, New Delhi said that its relation with Moscow is on a “different pedestal”. The Indian Ministry of External Affairs has claimed that there is a clear understanding of each other’s “core concerns” and vital security interests.