Prime Minister Narendra Modi, the first Indian prime minister to visit Spain since 1992, met the European country’s top leaders and they stressed that states and entities which encourage, support, finance terrorism, provide sanctuary to terrorists and glorify terrorism should be subjected to international laws including restrictive measures.
The prime minister held wide-ranging talks with President of the Spanish government Mariano Rajoy at the Moncloa Palace and invited Spanish firms to invest in India which offers “many opportunities” for them in various fields.
After the talks, the two sides signed seven agreements, including pacts on transfer of sentenced persons and visa waiver for holders of diplomatic passports.
Five MoUs were signed between the two countries on cooperation in organ transplantation, cyber security, renewable energy, civil aviation and one between India’s Foreign Service Institute and Diplomatic Academy of Spain.
The two sides also issued a joint statement in which the two leaders welcomed the recent positive developments in bilateral trade and investment partnership, buoyed by the positive economic outlook in both countries and called for stronger ties between the businesses of the two countries.
Spain is the 12th largest investor in India and the seventh largest trading partner in the EU. There are more than 200 Spanish companies in India that are actively involved in road construction projects, railways, wind power, water desalination, defense and smart cities.
There are more than 40 Indian companies in Spain, in the fields of technology, pharmaceuticals, automotive and energy.
Two-way trade totalled $5.27 billion in 2016.
Rajoy welcomed the efforts of India to provide a positive business environment for foreign companies and to further international investment, for which, adequate protection of investments and legal certainty are instrumental.
He also emphasized the importance that Spain attaches in the coming months to solid progress on the India-EU Broad-based Trade and Investment Agreement (BITA), which may facilitate further Spanish and European investments in India.
“President Rajoy and Prime Minister Modi recognized that terrorism poses the gravest threat to international peace and stability and expressed their strong commitment to combat terrorism in all its forms and manifestations,” it said.
Both leaders condemned the recent terrorist attack in Manchester and stressed that there should be zero tolerance to terrorism and that there can be no justification whatsoever for any act of terror, the joint statement said.
“The fight against terrorism is conceived to disrupt and defeat terror organizations and networks. States and entities which encourage, support, finance terrorism, provide sanctuary to terrorists and glorify terrorism should be subjected to international laws including restrictive measures and strong condemnation by all law abiding members of the international community,” it added.
The two leaders called on the international community to end selective or partial approaches to combating terrorism and in this regard jointly called for the early finalization and adoption of a Comprehensive Convention on International Terrorism by the UNGA, the statement added.
Modi encouraged Spanish infrastructure, tourism, energy and defense companies to invest in priority sectors in India, saying “it’s a great time for Spanish companies to invest in India.”
Spain, the summer holiday destination of Europe, in a recent government report said that the Islamic State group “has been publishing in Spanish, which means an increase in the risk of its influence on radicals living in our country”.
In “today’s global context”, Modi said, the focus of his discussion in Spain will be on the international developments.
The prime minister praised the Spanish president saying under Rajoy’s leadership the country has undergone economic reforms “which is also the biggest priority of my government.”
He said railways, smart cities and infrastructure sectors were the priority areas for India and Spain has “enough skills and mastery” to contribute to India’s requirements.
Modi said he is confident that his visit to Spain will give a new momentum to bilateral ties.
Later, he paid a courtesy call to Spanish King Felipe VI at Palacio de la Zarzuela palace on the outskirts of Madrid.
Prime Minister Modi also met top CEOs of leading Spanish companies and invited them to participate in initiatives like ‘Make in India’, saying immense potential awaits them in the fast-growing nation.
In a roundtable interaction with leading Spanish business leaders, he said that there is immense potential for further growth of Spanish investments in India.
He mentioned sectors such as infrastructure, renewable energy, food processing, auto, chemicals and textiles and invited Spanish participation in the Smart Cities initiative.
Modi also gave a broad overview of the economic reforms undertaken in India, including the GST.
He said he was personally committed to helping foreign companies set up operations in India.
“We should also increase cooperation in the strategic field in areas such as cyber security, maritime cooperation and defense,” he said.
Modi is the first Indian prime minister to visit Spain since Narashima Rao’s trip to the country in 1992.
From Spain, Modi will travel to St Petersburg in Russia on June 1 where he will hold the 18th India-Russia annual Summit with Russian President Vladimir Putin and attend the St Petersburg International Economic Forum the next day.
The prime minister will be in Paris on June 2 and 3 where he will hold official talks with newly elected French President Emmanuel Macron with a view to further strengthening India-France strategic ties.