Modi holds bilateral meetings ahead of Vibrant Gujarat Summit

Gandhinagar: Ahead of the three-day Vibrant Gujarat Summit, Prime Minister Narendra Modi here Saturday held bilateral meetings with numerous visiting dignitaries, including Bhutanese Prime Minister Tshering Tobgay and Polish Deputy Prime Minister Janusz Piechociski.

Trade and economic ties and terror and security concerns were the major strands in Modi's meetings on the margins of the summit that kicks off Sunday, said sources.

Modi also held talks with Australian Trade Minister Andrew Robb and with New South Wales Premier Mike Baird. Among the others he met were British Minister of State for Trade and Investment Lord Ian Livingston, Singapore Trade and Industry Minister S. Iswaran and a Japanese delegation.

During the talks with Tobgay, both sides reviewed their close contacts and the high level visits of last year. Modi had made Bhutan the first stop of his bilateral visits abroad.

Both sides also discussed the digital initiatives like an e-library and reviewed the hydropower projects and other development partnerships.

They discussed the "excellent security cooperation" including in recent times, following the recent violent events in Assam. Both sides agreed that cooperation and coordinating efforts is the best way to proceed, the sources added.

With Poland the major issues discussed were the possibilities for defence cooperation through the Make in India Initiative of the government as also the possibilities of cooperation in the mining sector.

With Livingston, the issue of the India-EU free trade agreement, known as Bilateral Trade and Investment Agreement (BTIA), came up for discussion.

Despite several rounds of negotiations that began in 2007, the proposed India-EU BTIA, covering trade in merchandise, services, and investment, has not yet been concluded.

The other issues discussed were terrorism threats to open societies following the terror incidents in Sydney and the Charlie Hebdo incident in Paris.

With the Australian team, the bilateral Comprehensive Economic Cooperation Agreement (CECA) came up for talks. Both sides have so far held the sixth round of talks on the CECA, negotiations for which were launched in May 2011.

They also discussed the Make in India Initiative Road Show being planned in Australia.

The recent terror incident in Sydney where a lone gunman held many people hostage in a cafe in December, that ended with three people, including two hostages, killed also was discussed.

With Singapore Minister Iswaran, the topic of smart city initiatives came up for discussion, while with the Japanese delegation both sides felt the need to move quickly on doubling investment.

The Vibrant Gujarat Summit, a flagship programme of the Gujarat government, kicks off Sunday. It will see the participation of UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon and US Secretary of State John Kerry.

Over 50 CEOs of top Indian as well as international companies are to participate in the summit while eight countries, including the US, Canada and Japan have for the first time become partner nations for the summit.

The summit, to be held at Mahatma Mandir, will host seminars and facilitate business to business meetings with the investors.

The biennial event was launched by Modi in 2003 while he was Gujarat chief minister to attract investment into the state.

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