India invites Bulgaria to become partner in defence

India invites Bulgaria to become partner in defence

President Ram Nath Kovind and Bulgarian President Rumen Radev hold hands as the gesture during a joint news conference in Sofia, Bulgaria. Reuters Photo

India and Bulgaria on Wednesday signed four MoUs, including one on civil nuclear cooperation, as President Ram Nath Kovind held talks with his Bulgarian counterpart Rumen Radev and invited the Balkan nation to become a key partner of India in the defence sector.

Kovind arrived on Tuesday from Cyprus on the second leg of his eight-day three-nation visit to Europe to continue India's high-level engagements with European countries.

The President held detailed talks with Radev and later the two leaders witnessed the signing of four MoUs between India and Bulgaria on investment, tourism, civil nuclear cooperation and the establishment of Hindi Chair at Sofia University, Ministry of External Affairs spokesperson Raveesh Kumar tweeted.

A programme of cooperation was also signed to enhance scientific cooperation, he said

Kovind also invited Bulgaria to become a key partner of India in the defence sector, IT sector under 'Make In India' programme, the MEA spokesperson said.

Bulgaria is a North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) member country with a large indigenous defence industry. It is ranked as a "medium" small arms exporter according to the Small Arms Survey.

Bilateral trade between India and Bulgaria has grown 76 per cent during 2016-17, but there is a lot of scope for expanding the current bilateral trade basket as well as for enhancing the quantum in the existing items of export and import, the Indian Embassy in Bulgaria said on its website.

Last night, Kovind hailed the Indian diaspora in Bulgaria for acting as a "living bridge" between the two nations and welcomed the community's participation in India's transformative journey.

Addressing the Indian Community here, the president also said there is a "new vigour" in India's diaspora policy and outreach.

Praising the Indian community, Kovind said, "The Indian Diaspora in Bulgaria constitutes a living bridge between our countries. Your numbers may be small but you have made an appreciable contribution to fostering bilateral ties."

The Indian community in Bulgaria is very small numbering around 250 permanent residents who are engaged in small business or work in companies.

In addition, there are around 400 other Indians, mostly students and IT professionals, who come on a temporary basis and leave the country when their courses or job assignments are over.

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