Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s brief visit to Brussels during his Europe trip next month has been shelved after the European Union did not reply to India’s proposal for the same.
Modi will now be visiting two European countries – France and Germany – combined with his travel to Canada, sources said, adding that dates were also suggested to the EU for a Prime Ministerial visit in the second week of April.
“However, with EU not responding to India’s proposal, the government went ahead with firming of the Prime Minister’s travel itinerary without a visit to Brussels,” sources said.
Asked about the reasons behind such an unusual reaction to India’s suggestion, sources refused to “pin-point” any, saying it was an internal matter of the 28-member bloc.
According to speculation, one of the reasons for the EU not responding to Indian proposal was that it was upset with the slow progress of the trial of two Italian marines accused of killing two Indian fisherman in 2012.
New EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini had made many critical remarks on the issue much to India’s discomfort. The fact that she has been expressing her strong concerns on the Ukraine crisis and Russia’s role in the conflict has also not helped as India has refused to tow the line of Western countries.
But significantly, many smaller European countries have expressed their unhappiness over dropping of Brussels from Modi’s travel itinerary as they see it as a lost opportunity for providing the much-needed boost to India-EU ties, which were witnessing a slowdown after their negotiations for an economic pact showed no progress due to differences on various issues.