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2nd Round of Foreign Office Consultations held between Belgium and India

On 10 April 2024, Belgium and India held the second Foreign Office Consultations (FoC) round. The meeting co-chairs were Ms. Theodora Gentzis, President of the Board, Belgian Federal Public Service Foreign Affairs and Shri Pavan Kapoor, Secretary (West), Ministry of External Affairs, India. The meeting took place in the Indian capital, New Delhi. Both countries undertook a thorough review of their multifaceted relations.

Arrival of Ms. Theodora 

Upon her arrival in India, Ms. Theodora met with several Indian dignitaries who held a brief discussion on the bilateral relations between Belgium and India. Welcoming Ms. Theodora, Smt. Meenakshi Lekhi, Union Minister of State for External Affairs and Culture, India, tweeted: “Pleasure meeting Ms. Theodora Gentzis, Secretary General @BelgiumMFA today. Reiterated our commitment to further deepen our close, friendly and multifaceted ties.” Dr. S. Jaishankar, Minister of External Affairs, India, posted on his social media account, X: “Pleased to receive Secretary General @BelgiumMFA Theodora Gentzis today. Discussed strengthening economic and political cooperation between India, Belgium and the EU. Took up the concerns of our diamond industry. Also exchanged views on semiconductors and green growth.”

Prior Meetings

The current FoC follows two prior meetings between Belgium and India earlier this year. In February 2024, Ms. Hadja Lahbib, Belgian Minister of Foreign Affairs, met with Dr. Jaishankar on the sidelines of the Munich conference. On 26 March 2024, H.E. Mr. Alexander De Croo, Prime Minister of Belgium and Indian Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi had a telephone conversation. According to Shri Randhir Jaiswal, Official Spokesperson of the Ministry of External Affairs, India, “2nd India-Belgium FOC held in New Delhi today. Co-chairs Secy (West) @AmbKapoor and President of the Board @BelgiumMFA @GentzisTheodora reviewed the bilateral relations, and also discussed regional and global issues.”

Areas of Bilateral Cooperation

The discussions during the FoC included several critical areas of cooperation like semiconductors, economic and trade cooperation, cyber and digital, UNSC reforms, and science and technology. The meeting also took up issues of institutional dialogue mechanisms and multilateral collaboration. Belgium and India reaffirmed their commitment to bolstering India-EU (European Union) strategic ties, especially during the current term of Belgium as the President of the Council of the European Union. Both sides agreed to work towards a balanced, comprehensive, fair and mutually beneficial Free Trade Agreement (FTA) between India and the EU. Other discussion matters were green energy transition (green hydrogen, port and pharmaceuticals cooperation) and global and regional affairs. Both sides also discussed the currently pressing global challenges.

Cultural Ties

Belgium and India also discussed the importance of close people-to-people ties and cultural exchanges. Both sides reaffirmed their commitment to working towards a speedy conclusion to the Migration and Mobility Partnership Agreement. This agreement would facilitate a smoother exchange of students, researchers, and academicians between countries.

On 9 April 2024, the Joint Economic Commission of BLEU (Belgium-Luxembourg Economic Union) and India took place in New Delhi. The meeting co-chairs were the President of the Board, Belgian Federal Public Service Foreign and Commercial Affairs, and the Commerce Secretary, Government of India. The FoC was a follow-up to this meeting. It allowed Belgium and India to bolster their bilateral ties and review priorities and actions across multidimensional ties. The next round of FoC will take place in Belgium in 2025 on a mutually agreed-upon date.