RIGA: India and Latvia on Tuesday agreed to step up bilateral relations as Vice President Venkaiah Naidu held wide ranging talks with Latvian President Egils Levits amid New Delhi's efforts to bolster ties with Baltic countries.
Vice President Naidu in a joint media statement with the Latvian President said the two leaders during the talks pledged to take the bilateral relations to a higher level with special focus on culture, education and economic partnership.
He said people-to-people relations are an important pillar of the bilateral engagement.
Naidu appreciated widespread interest of the Latvian people in Ayurveda, Yoga, Indian culture, cinema and cuisine and said there is also growing interest for Latvian culture and Latvian cinema in India.
The vice president, who reached the Latvian capital Riga on Monday, is on the second leg of his five-day three-nation tour to Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia, the first ever high-level visit from India to the three Baltic countries.
Naidu said the visit has given him an opportunity to add further momentum to the special ties between India and Latvia.
"As the world's largest democracy, India has been impressed by the emergence of the Republic of Latvia as the fastest-growing member of Euro-zone," he said.
President Levits and Naidu also reviewed the two countries' global partnership.
"We agreed that we have very close cooperation on the international stage and we will continue even further.
I am confident that with my visit will open a new chapter in our bilateral relations," he said.
Naidu also held discussions with Prime Minister Krisjsnis Karins on ways to enhance bilateral relations and to boost trade and investment cooperation.
Naidu will also interact with business leaders at the first ever India-Latvia Business Forum.
The ASSOCHAM is leading a business delegation from India for the business forum.
Naidu said the interactions between business and industry leaders will find new avenues for bilateral investments.
After the talks, the two countries signed agreements on cultural exchange.
The vice president paid tributes to the heroes of Latvia's struggle for independence by laying a wreath on the Freedom Monument in Riga.
The monument has been Riga's central landmark for almost a century and is an architectural representation of freedom.