PM Modi's visit to Portugal for India-EU summit called off in view of COVID-19 situation

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New Delhi, Apr 20 (PTI) Prime Minister Narendra Modi's planned visit to Portugal to attend the annual India-European Union summit next month has been called off in view of the coronavirus crisis, and the deliberations will be held virtually.

The Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) said on Tuesday that the decision to hold the summit in a virtual format on May 8 was taken in consultation with EU and Portuguese leadership.

The 16th India-EU summit was scheduled for May 8 in Porto, a prominent city of Portugal.

'In view of the COVID-19 situation, it has been decided, in consultation with the EU and Portuguese leadership, to hold the India-EU leaders' meeting in a virtual format on May 8,' MEA spokesperson Arindam Bagchi said.

'The India-EU Leaders' meeting in the EU+27 format, the first time that such a meeting is being held, reflects the shared ambition of both sides to further deepen the strategic partnership,' he said.

Bagchi was responding to media queries on the issue.

The prime minister was expected to pay a bilateral visit to France as part of his trip to Europe.

The 27-nation EU is a strategically important grouping for India.

The EU as a whole was India's largest trading partner in 2018. India's bilateral trade with the EU in 2018-19 stood at USD 115.6 billion with exports valued at USD 57.17 billion and imports worth USD 58.42 billion.

In the 15th India-EU summit in July last year, Prime Minister Modi had pitched for bringing out an “action-oriented” agenda to further expand ties.

In that virtual summit, the two sides came out with a roadmap to further strengthen strategic partnership by 2025. PTI MPB RT RT RT RT