Modi, Belgian King give bilateral ties a push

Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Belgian King Philippe met in New Delhi on Tuesday and discussed ways to strengthen bilateral ties.

"India is delighted to welcome HM the King and HM the Queen of the Belgians," Modi posted on Twitter.

Belgium's royal couple, King Philippe and Queen Mathilde, is currently on a visit to India on an invitation from President Ram Nath Kovind.

They were accorded a ceremonial reception at the forecourt of the Rashtrapati Bhavan on Tuesday.

"#PresidentKovind accorded a ceremonial welcome to Their Majesties the King and The Queen of the Belgians at Rashtrapati Bhavan this morning," tweeted Rashtrapati Bhavan. "First Lady Savita Kovind hosted Queen Mathilde for a conversation on bilateral relations over lunch at Rashtrapati Bhavan."

The Prime Minister later hosted King Philippe at the Hyderabad House.

"Held talks with HM the King of the Belgians. India cherishes the ties with Belgium & we look forward to diversifying bilateral cooperation," the PM tweeted.

India is at present Belgium's second largest export destination and third largest trade partner outside European Union. The bilateral trade amounted to $13.28 billion in 2016-17. Exports from India to Belgium accounted for $5.65 billion, while imports from Belgium accounted for $6.62 billion.

Diamond domination

Diamond trade overwhelmingly dominates Indo-Belgian commerce. Trade in gems and jewellery constitutes over 75% of the bilateral trade and diamonds make up more than 80% of Belgian exports and more than 40% Belgian imports from India. Belgian companies' cumulative investment in India is worth over US $1.01 billion for the period April 2000-June 2017.

External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj also called on King Philippe.

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