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Prime Minister Narendra Modi meets the Belgium Prime Minister Charles Michel at the Egmont Palace, in Brussels, Belgium on March 30, 2016. (Photo: IANS/PIB)
Prime Minister Narendra Modi meets the Belgium Prime Minister Charles Michel at the Egmont Palace, in Brussels, Belgium on March 30, 2016. (Photo: IANS/PIB)

Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Belgian counterpart Charles Michel on Wednesday jointly remote activated Asia’s largest optical telescope, ARIES, located in India.

“ARIES project is not just a government-to-government initiative,” Modi said after the activation.

“It is a win-win collaboration between private sectors as well,” he said.

He said that even the sky was not the limit for the project.

Located at the Aryabhatta Research Institute of Observational Sciences (ARIES) at Devasthal near Nainital, it is a 3.6-metre telescope .

India has collaborated with a Belgian company called AMOS to produce this infrared steerable optical telescope which is the first of its kind in the whole of Asia.

Condemning the March 22 terror attack on Brussels airport, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Wednesday said he wanted to expedite the negotiations on an extradition treaty and also a treaty on exchange of sentenced prisoners with Belgium.

“As part of our efforts to respond to this common challenge (terrorism) we could resume discussions on a mutual legal assistance treaty. Negotiations on extradition treaty and a treaty on exchange of sentenced prisoners could be concluded expeditiously,” the prime minister said.

“The whole of India stands in full support and solidarity with the Belgian people,” he said.

 

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Wednesday visited the Maelbeek metro station in Belgium where an Islamic State bomb attack last week killed 20 people, including an Indian, and injured more than 100 men and women.

Modi paid tributes to the victims of the blast at the subway in the Belgium capital and laid a wreath at the site as a mark of respect for the dead.

Indian techie Raghavendra Ganesan was one of the victims at the metro station bombing. His death was confirmed by Belgian authorities only this week.

Terrorism was a major focus of the visiting Indian prime minister during his day-long Brussels trip for the 2016 India-EU summit.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi arrived in Brussels on Wednesday for a hectic day-long visit during which he will attend the India-EU Summit and hold bilateral talks with his Belgian counterpart Charles Michel.

Though terror is expected to figure prominently both at the Summit and also in the bilateral talks in the wake of the Brussels suicide attacks last week, Modi will strive to advance India’s partnership with EU in priority areas such as ‘Make in India’ and ‘Smart Cities’.

“A red carpet at dawn. PM @narendramodi receives a warm welcome as he arrives in Brussels,” External Affairs Ministry Spokesperson Vikas Swarup tweeted soon after the Prime
Minister’s arrival in the Belgian capital.

Modi’s visit comes days after the March 22 terror attack here in which at least 32 people were killed, including an Indian, Raghavendran Ganeshan, who was an Infosys employee
from Bengaluru.

The 13th India-EU Summit is being held after a gap of four years. The last Summit was held in New Delhi in 2012 and negotiations remained deadlocked over several key issues.

Besides firming up India-EU counter-terror partnership, the Summit here is expected to evince interest in other projects like cleaning of Ganga on the lines of River Rhine and Danube.

EU is India’s biggest trading partner as a bloc with trade amounting to USD 126 billion and it is also India’s largest export destination with exports worth USD 65 billion.

It is the largest source of FDI in India at USD 69 billion. Soon after his arrival, Modi has a series of meetings lined up including one with indologists along with a meeting with members of the European Parliament and the Belgian Parliament.

ALSO READ: PM Modi Hails ‘Resilience And Spirit’ Of Belgians Ahead Of Counter-Terror Meet

On the eve of the Prime Minister’s visit, the EU said in a statement that “the Summit in Brussels will be an opportunity to re-launch relations and make concrete progress on areas of mutual interest, including trade and investment, energy, climate, water and migration.”

“India-EU Summit and strong economic & investment ties with Belgium will be on the agenda during my Brussels visit,” Modi had said before embarking on his visit.

He had hailed the “resilience and spirit” of its people in the wake of the horrific Brussels bombings and said India stands “shoulder-to-shoulder” with them.

From Brussels, Modi will leave for Washington to attend the Nuclear Security Summit on March 31 and April 1 and from there he will travel to Saudi Arabia on a two-day visit with a
focus on boosting energy and security cooperation.