PM to leave for Sweden and UK next week; Nordic summit and CHOGM on agenda

Prime Minister Narendra Modi will leave for a six-day tour to Sweden and the UK next week to participate in two multilateral conferences besides furthering India's bilateral interest with half a dozen European nations.

Modi will first fly to Stockholm on April 16 where he would take part in the first India-Nordic summit, to be attended by the prime ministers of all the five Nordic nations - Sweden, Denmark, Finland, Norway and Iceland.

There would also be bilateral engagement with Sweden as Modi would be the first Indian prime minister to land in Stockholm since 1988, Subrata Bhattacharaya, joint secretary, central Europe, in the Ministry of External Affairs said here on Thursday.

With India opening a fresh tender to 110 fighter jets for the Indian Air Force, defence relations are likely to figure prominently in bilateral talks.

Swedish arms major Saab is likely to take part in the tender with its Grippen fighter jets that lost to a French fighter aircraft in the previous attempt of combat jet purchase, which ultimately didn't materialise.

Modi would also have bilateral talks with each of the four other prime ministers attending the India-Nordic summit with an aim of expanding bilateral trade between India and these countries. Taken together, India's bilateral trade with Nordic countries stands at $5.3 billion whereas these five nations contribute $2.5 billion FDI to India.

From Sweden, Modi will travel to London for Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting on April 19-20.

While there is no conformation on the possibility of a bilateral talk between Modi and his Pakistani counterpart Shahid K Abbasi on the sidelines of CHOGM, Modi would meet the heads of small island nations on the sidelines of the Commonwealth summit, said Nagraj Naidu, joint secretary, west Europe, in the MEA.

The summit will be in London on April 19. Next day, the leaders would travel to the royal family's Windsor Castle for a retreat.

Indian Prime Ministers were not attending the CHOGM summits since 2007. Modi skipped the last gathering in Malta in 2015, and his prdecessor Manmohan Singh didn't the previous two editions in 2011 and 2013 in Australia and Sri Lanka.

But this time India is likely to play a key role in the summit as Britain was discussing with Modi government on how to revamp the Commonwealth a block of 52 nations.

On the return on illegal immigrants, India and the UK may also renew an old pact that expired in 2014.

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