Prime Minister Narendra Modi, on his maiden state visit to Belgium, expressed India’s solidarity with the European nation for the tragedy that struck Brussels on 22 March.
Speaking from the Marble Gallery in Brussels, Modi said, “India stands in full support and solidarity with Belgium.” He offered his sincere gratitude for the warm welcome he received despite it being a tough time for the country.
Earlier in the day, Modi had also visited a memorial at the Maalbeek metro station for the victims of the Brussels attacks, which included Indian engineer Raghavendra Ganeshan. He laid a bouquet at the metro station.
Modi then made his speech after he and Belgian Prime Minister Charles Michel remotely activated Aries, India’s largest optical telescope built by the two nations together. He called it an “inspiring example of what our partnership can achieve”.
He also stressed on the friendly ties the two nations have shared for several decades, stating that more than 130,000 Indian soldiers “fought in the First World War alongside your countrymen on Belgian soil” and more than 9,000 of them “made the supreme sacrifice”.
The two nations will commemorate the 70th anniversary of diplomatic ties in 2017 and Belgium monarch King Philip will visit India to mark the occasion, said Modi. Programmes are also being planned in both countries.
Modi made a pitch to Belgian businessmen to invest in India’s developmental projects including Digital India, Start up India and Skill India. “Our macroeconomic fundamentals are robust and at seven percent plus growth, we are one of the fastest growing opportunities in the world,” he said.
The Prime Minister also urged on technological co-operation, especially in the field of renewable energy, calling climate change one of the biggest challenges facing mankind. “It’s not just diamonds that can bring shine to our partnership,” he said referring to the nation’s popular export.