India, Sweden to restart strategic dialogue; sign agreements
Stockholm: India and Sweden today 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 here 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) in Ministry of External Affairs Navtej Sarna told reporters here.
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 others 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 sets out several areas for cooperation between the defence authorities of the 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.
"In view of the size as well as speed at which it was growing, India is a natural claimant for being a part of the UNSC," Sarna quoted the Swedish Prime Minister as saying.
Lofven also told the President that Sweden supported India's entry into the Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR), which is an voluntary association of 34 countries favouring non-proliferation of unmanned delivery systems capable of delivering weapons of mass destruction.
Mukherjee also extended invitation to Swedish Prime Minister for an official visit to India so that other areas for a possible investment from Sweden could be explored.
A proposal for holding a joint India-EU summit was also talked about.
The President also went to Swedish Parliament where he was received by Speaker Urban Ahlin. He conducted Mukherjee, who has been a veteran Parliamentarian himself, to the Parliament.
Later, he wrote in the visitors book: "Parliamentarians represent the voice of the people and Parliamentary exchanges are the best way to furthering people-to-people contacts".
The President also visited City Hall, which hosts the Nobel Prize function.
Mayor of Stockholm hosted a banquet for the President at city hall.