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Modi, Belgian PM launch Asia’s biggest telescope

Modi, Belgian PM launch Asia’s biggest telescope
Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Belgian counterpart Charles Michel on Wednesday remotely launched Asia’s biggest telescope, the Aryabhatta Research Institute of Observational Sciences (ARIES), built with Belgian assistance.

“Prime Minister Michel and I have just activated, remotely, India’s largest optical telescope,” Modi said after launching the telescope with a 3.6-metre-wide primary mirror located at Devasthal near Nainital in Uttarakhand.

“Even sky is not the limit,” he said, referring to the cooperation between the two countries on various projects.

ARIES, the largest optical telescope of its kind in Asia, is a product of Indo-Belgian collaboration. It will be used to study star structures and magnetic field structures of stars.

“This product of Indo-Belgian collaboration is an inspiring example of what our partnership can achieve,” said Modi. “The work is also afoot on other agreements in the areas of Information and Communication Technology, audio-visual production Tourism biotechnology and shipping and ports,” he said. 

He said Belgium has contributed 7 per cent finances to the AIRES Telescope.

PM meets Indian diamond traders from Antwerp 
Asserting that diamonds still are India’s historic link with Belgium, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Wednesday invited the key European nation’s business leaders to invest in India’s IT and infrastructure sectors.

“Diamonds are, of course, an old link between us. It provides employment to many in India,” External Affairs Ministry spokesperson Vikas Swarup said in a tweet, quoting Modi.

Almost 84 per cent of the world’s rough diamonds pass through Antwerp and the Belgian city is today the world’s largest diamond trading centre with a turnover of over $54 billion. Indian traders own a large part of this diamond trade in Antwerp. “Reflecting on the wide range of our engagements, the PM says it is not just diamonds that can bring shine to our partnership!,” Swarup said in another tweet.

Modi also spoke on the various aspects of cooperation such as renewable energy, science and technology, space research, IT, tourism, biotechnology, shipping and ports.

“I feel that a progressive path to India-EU Trade and Investment Agreement can enable all to benefit from India’s strong economic growth,” the PM said as he invited Belgian corporates and businesses to explore opportunities in India.

Recalling India’s historic links with Belgium, the Prime Minister said: “We have ties of blood with Belgium. 100 years ago 130,000 soldiers from India fought in Belgium and 9,000 made the supreme sacrifice”.

Narendra Modi’s visit to Belgium comes days after the March 22 terror attack here in which at least 32 people were killed. 
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