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Swiss State Secretary for Foreign Affairs visits India

India and Switzerland on Tuesday carried out a comprehensive review of their partnership and agreed to make it future-oriented with a focus on “innovation, sustainability and digitalisation”.

The two sides discussed the issues at the 11th round of India-Switzerland Foreign Office Consultations (FOC), co-chaired by Swiss State Secretary for Foreign Affairs Livia Leu and Secretary (West) in the Ministry of External Affairs Sanjay Verma.

The crisis in Ukraine and the developments in Sri Lanka also figured in the talks.

The Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) said both sides appreciated that the annual bilateral trade had exceeded US USD 30 billion and agreed on the importance of diversifying the trade relations.

Over 330 Swiss companies are present in India in sectors such as engineering, services, precision instruments, chemicals and pharmaceuticals while Indian companies are present in Switzerland in sectors such as IT, pharmaceuticals, and machinery.

India, Switzerland to expand ties in Science and IT - IndBiz | Economic  Diplomacy Division | IndBiz | Economic Diplomacy Division

“The two sides took note of the progress made in the negotiations on India-Switzerland Bilateral Investment Treaty and India-EFTA Trade and Economic Partnership Agreement (TEPA) and agreed on the need for their early conclusion,” the MEA said in a statement.

“Discussions were also held on enhancing cooperation in innovation, digitalisation, tourism, skill development, science & technology as well as arts and culture,” it said.

File:UN emblem blue.svg - Wikimedia Commons

The MEA said the two sides also exchanged views on multilateral and regional issues including cooperation at the UN, the upcoming G20 Presidency of India and the situation in Ukraine.

A Swiss statement said Leu visited India for political consultations on bilateral relations, multilateral cooperation and current foreign policy issues.

It said India is one of the priority countries of Swiss foreign policy.

“Switzerland’s upcoming seat on the UN Security Council and India’s experience as a member of the Council in 2021 set the scene for a joint reflection on current crises, particularly the war in Ukraine and the developments in Sri Lanka,” the statement said.

It said the two officials reaffirmed their common intention to step up the partnership between the two countries in the areas of digitalisation, innovation and sustainability.

It said Verma expressed his interest in Switzerland’s proposal to begin a dialogue on digitalisation.

European Free Trade Association - Wikipedia

“A first meeting on this topic is to take place in Delhi in October. Both interlocutors also stressed the importance of proceeding with negotiations on a free trade agreement between India and the European Free Trade Association EFTA,” the statement said.

“Other topics covered were relations with neighbouring countries, climate change, human rights and migration,” it said.

Meenakshi Lekhi - Wikipedia

Leu also met Minister of State for External Affairs, Meenakashi Lekhi.

She also visited the IIT Delhi, where Swiss and Indian scientists have worked together to successfully develop a low-carbon alternative to conventional cement.

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