India is celebrating the 75th anniversary of its independence this year. Switzerland established diplomatic relations with India just one year later, in 1948. State Secretary Livia Leu and her Indian interlocutor Sanjay Verma, Secretary (West) of the Ministry of External Affairs, looked back at the diplomatic relations spanning three quarters of a century, which the two countries will celebrate next year.
In view of their diverse relations, State Secretary Leu and Secretary Verma discussed a wide range of common interests. Switzerland’s upcoming seat on the UN Security Council and India’s experience as a member of the Council in 2021 set the scene for a joint reflection on current crises, particularly the war in Ukraine and the developments in Sri Lanka.
The pair reaffirmed their common intention to step up the partnership between the two countries in the areas of digitalisation, innovation and sustainability. Switzerland has been represented in India through a Swissnex in Bangalore for 11 years and the two countries have coordinated various bilateral activities and programmes through the joint Committee for Science and Technology since 2011.
State Secretary Sanjay Verma expressed his interest in Switzerland's proposal to begin a dialogue on digitalisation. A first meeting on this topic is to take place in Delhi in October. Both interlocutors also stressed the importance of proceeding with negotiations on a free trade agreement between India and the European Free Trade Association EFTA.
Other topics covered were relations with neighbouring countries, climate change, human rights and migration.After the consultations, State Secretary Leu met with Minister of State for External Affairs, Meenakashi Lekhi. She also visited the Indian Institute of Technology Delhi, where Swiss and Indian scientists have worked together to successfully develop a low-carbon alternative to conventional cement.
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