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India-EU summit in Brussels postponed as PM Modi pulls out due to coronavirus

The EU is India's biggest trading partner but efforts towards a free trade agreement have been stuck for years.

Published: 05th March 2020 07:15 PM  |   Last Updated: 05th March 2020 07:15 PM   |  A+A-

Narendra Modi

PM Narendra Modi (Photo | PTI)

By AFP

NEW DELHI: India-EU summit scheduled for March 13 in Brussels has been postponed because of the coronavirus, New Delhi said Thursday.

"Both sides have agreed that due to health authorities advising against travel between regions it would be wise to reschedule the summit to a mutually convenient date," Indian foreign ministry spokesman Raveesh Kumar told reporters.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi had been due to attend the 15th such summit with the European Union represented by Charles Michel, European Council president, and European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen.

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The EU is India's biggest trading partner but efforts towards a free trade agreement have been stuck for years. New Delhi also has prickly trade relations with the United States.

Modi's government has been irked by criticism in Europe of its actions in India-administered Kashmir and of a new citizenship law that has sparked three months of protest and last week sectarian riots in Delhi that killed at least 42 people.

"The decision (to postpone the summit) has been taken in the spirit of close cooperation between India and the EU who share the same concerns and commitment to global health and hope that the outbreak is contained soon," Kumar said.

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