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Sushma Swaraj holds talks with EU foreign policy chief

Sushma Swaraj holds talks with EU foreign policy chief
European Union foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini on Friday held talks with External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj on a range of issues including on preparations for the annual India-EU summit scheduled to be held here later this year.

Mogherini also held delegation-level talks with Minister of State for External Affairs M J Akbar during which they discussed progress on decisions taken during the annual summit in Brussels last year.

Mogherini is here on a two-day visit. In the meeting, the EU side is understood to have pushed for early resumption of talks for the long-pending free trade pact between India and the EU.

India's bilateral investment pacts with several European countries are expiring and citing this, the EU has been strongly pushing for moving ahead with the free trade agreement which is known as the EU-India Broad-based Trade and Investment Agreement (BTIA). The EU has been pressing India to extend by six months its bilateral investment pacts with several EU-member countries which are expiring soon, saying absence of the treaties could adversely impact trade ties and FTA talks.

India's existing trade and investment pacts with the Netherlands came to an end in November while similar pacts with several other EU countries are expiring in the coming months. The EU has been maintaining that expiry of the pacts will make it difficult for European countries to go for fresh investments in India. The body wants India to first give the extension to the pacts and then move ahead with BTIA.

The BTIA talks have been stalled since May 2013 when both sides failed to bridge substantial gaps on issues like data security status for the IT sector.
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