Czech PM attends Vibrant Gujarat summit, seeks closer defence ties

Czech PM attends Vibrant Gujarat summit, seeks closer defence ties

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New Delhi, Jan. 20:
Czech Republic Prime Minister Andrej Babis on Saturday said his country is ready to step up Indo-Czech cooperation in defence and other sectors, and its defence minister will visit Bengaluru next month to attend Aero India.
Interacting with reporters on the sidelines of an event at the Czech Embassy here, he also hailed Prime Minister Narendra Modi as a “charismatic leader” with a “vision”. Babis was on an official visit to India from January 17-19. He led a Czech delegation at the Vibrant Gujarat Global Summit 2019, with Czech Republic as a partner country.
The two leaders also held a bilateral meeting on Friday on the sidelines of the Summit. The entire gamut of bilateral relations including important global and regional issues of mutual interest was discussed during the talks, officials said.
“We discussed concretely, defence cooperation, Tatra (trucks), Skoda, our investments, possibility of a direct airline service between Delhi and Praguie, tourism and other areas of cooperation,” he said Saturday, when asked what the two prime ministers discussed.
Czech car maker Skoda Auto and Volkswagen Group India on Saturday inaugurated a new technology centre at its Chakan manufacturing plant in Pune as part of its 2.0 India project.
Babis attended the programme and also inaugurated a Center for European Studies at Symbiosis University in Pune. On defence cooperation, he said, “We are ready to increase our defence cooperation in passive radars and other things… Our defence minister will visit India next month to participate in Aero India event in Bengaluru.” Aero India 2019 will be held in Bengaluru from February 20 to 24 and the defence exhibition will see participation of top fighter-jet manufacturers, defence equipment makers and companies related to the sector.
On bilateral ties, Babis said, “Both countries have a long history of cooperation. Old Czech brands like Skoda and Bata symbolise that tie. A lot of Indians think Bata is an Indian firm, which shows the deep connect.” He also pitched for extending cooperation in the education sector through students exchange programme.
Addressing a gathering at a reception held at the embassy in the evening, the Czech prime minister described his visit as “fantastic”.

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