NEW DELHI: A week after the deadly terror bombings in Brussels, Prime Minister Narendra Modi will leave for the Belgian capital tomorrow night as part of a three- nation tour during which he will attend the Nuclear Security Summit in Washington and visit Saudi Arabia.
In Brussels, Modi will attend the long-pending India-EU summit. He will also hold a bilateral summit meeting with his Belgian counterpart Charles Michel where ways to deal with terrorism will form a "very important part".
The India-EU Summit is aimed at deepening the strategic partnership between the two sides which are likely to deliberate on ways to finalise the free trade agreement. The last Summit had taken place in 2012.
India-EU ties witnessed some strain after the 28-member bloc had not responded to New Delhi's proposal for a brief visit by Modi to Brussels, the EU headquarters, during his trip to France, Germany and Canada in April last year.
"The attacks in Brusels, of course, will be a very important part of the discussions. In fact, it will be the starting point of the talks," Joint Secretary (Europe) Nandini Singla, told reporters.
In Brussels, Modi will meet top businessmen, including a delegation of diamond traders, and will also address the Indian diaspora. He will also meet Parliamentarians and a delegation of indologists, separately.
Antwerp in Belgium is the largest diamond trading hub globally as about 84 per cent of the world's rough diamonds passes through there. There is a sizeable presence of Indian traders in Antwerp.
From Brussels, Modi will leave for Washington to attend the 4th Nuclear Security Summit (NSS) on March 31 and April 1 where he will be making some specific announcemnents and proposals with regard to nuclear security.
India will submit a national progress report on nuclear security at the summit, which is also expected to deliberate on ways to tackle nuclear terrorism.
Asked whether Modi will meet his Pakistani counterpart Nawaz Sharif in Washington, External Affairs Ministry Spokesperson Vikas Swarup did not give a direct answer and only said it was usual for leaders to meet their counterparts on the margins of international meets.
From Washington, Modi will travel to Saudi Arabian capital Riyadh on April 2 for a two-day visit at the invitation of King Salman Bin Abdulaziz Al-Saud.
March 22 terror attack to figure in Modi's Brussels meet
The March 22 terror attacks in Brussels would be high on the talks agenda during Prime Minister Narendra Modi's visit to Belgium on Wednesday, during which he will also attend the India-EU summit.
Prime Minister Modi will visit Belgium, the US and Saudi Arabia during his five-day three-nation tour beginning on March 30.
"The recent attacks in Belgium will be the starting point of the prime minister's engagement in Brussels," a Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) official said during a briefing ahead of the visit.
The March 22 terror attacks in Brussels, on Zaventem airport and the Maalbeek Metro station, claimed over 30 lives and left at least 270 people injured.
In Brussels, Modi will hold bilateral talks with the Belgian leadership and also attend the 13th India-EU summit. The last India-EU summit was held in 2012.
Modi will later travel to Washington, D.C., for the Nuclear Security Summit where he is likely to meet his Pakistani counterpart Nawaz Sharif.
The external affairs ministry spokesperson, however, declined to say if Modi and Sharif would meet in Washington.
“I'm sure that the prime minister would have some bilateral meetings on the sidelines of the Nuclear Security Summit,” MEA spokesperson Vikas Swarup said.
“Many of the meetings are a work in progress. It will depend on the schedules of the two leaders,” he added.
(Inputs from PTI and IANS)