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India, Sweden to restart strategic dialogue; sign agreements


President Pranab Mukherjee meeting the Prime Minister of Sweden, Mr. Stefan Lofven, in Stockholm, Sweden on June 01, 2015. A PIB photo

STOCKHOLM (PTI): India and Sweden on Monday signed several agreements to boost ties and decided to restart the bilateral strategic dialogue besides finding ways for investment by the Nordic country in India's defence sector under the ambitious 'Make in India' initiative.

The decision to restart the bilateral strategic dialogue was conveyed to President Pranab Mukherjee, who is in Stockholm on a state visit, the first ever by any Indian head of state, by Swedish Prime Minister Stefen Lofven who called on him along with his cabinet colleagues.

It was agreed that the two countries would re-start their strategic dialogue between the two National Security Advisors, Secretary (West) the Ministry of External Affairs Navtej Sarna told reporters.

Asked why the dialogue was stalled in 2011, Sarna made it clear that there was no breakdown in the talks but only that the two countries had got into election mode. "Now that two new NSAs had been appointed, they will restart the process which is expected to begin soon," he said.

The President and Swedish Prime Minister witnessed signing of agreements between the two sides which included an Agreement on Visa Exemption for diplomatic passport holders.

The other agreements signed included a Memorandum of Understanding in the field of Sustainable Urban Development, MoU for cooperation in the field of Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises, Letter of Intent with Collaboration in Polar and Ocean Research and two health-related agreements.

As many as 15 agreements between various universities of India and Sweden were signed on the sidelines of the visit at the Swedish foreign ministry.

Sarna also said that Swedish Defence Minister Peter Hultqvist would be in India for two days beginning from June 10 during which he will look at the possibility of engaging with New Delhi in the defence sector.

With changed Foreign Direct Investments rules and Make in India campaign, it is expected that the Swedish government would look for India as a manufacturing base, he said.

A Memorandum of Understanding on Defence between Sweden and India was signed in November, 2009. The MoU set out several areas for cooperation between the defence authorities of the two countries for the purpose of mutual benefit.

During the meeting, the Swedish Prime Minister also shared the view that in a reformed United Nations Security Council, Sweden believed that India had credentials to be a part of it.

India has already pledged to follow the MTCR guidelines. The US President Barack Obama during his state visit in 2010 had announced support to India's candidature to MTCR.

Among other host of issues, the Swedish Prime Minister told the President that his country was looking somewhere around a figure of US$ five billion trade between the two countries. It is at US$ 2.3 billion at present.

Sweden is the third-largest contributor of Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) to India besides being the country's third-largest trade partner after China and Japan.

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