President Kovind to visit Iceland, Switzerland and Slovenia with focus on climate change

New Delhi, India Written By: Sidhant SibalUpdated: Sep 07, 2019, 01:11 PM IST
main img
File photo: President Kovind. Photograph:(Reuters)

Story highlights

The President looks forward to having an engagement with his counterparts and also engaging with the business community and students of these countries. 

President Ram Nath Kovind will be on a 3-nation visit to Iceland, Switzerland and Slovenia from September 9 to 17. During the visit, the focus will be on climate change and growing engagement with Europe.

Deputy press secretary to the President, Dr Nimish Rustagi said, "The President looks forward to having an engagement with his counterparts and also engaging with the business community and students of these countries". 

While he will be meeting with the top leadership of all the 3 countries, he will also be engaging with the students at universities of these countries and its business leadership.

Asked if Kashmir will be discussed during the meetings with the political leadership, secretary west Gitesh Sarma in the Ministry of External Affairs said, "When leaders meet, there is a structure in which regional, international, global multilateral issues of national concerns are discussed. We use this opportunity to brief each other. This is a very good setting to hear at the highest level what our perspective is".

On terror, "all 3 countries are very sympathetic to India and this year in the context of Pulwama attack, their sympathies have been with India. They are aware that there is a need to work closely with India", he said.

PM Modi's first leg of the visit will be to Iceland where the focus will be on dealing with climate change. He will deliver a lecture at the University of Iceland in the capital city Reykjaví on "India-Iceland partnership and towards making a greener planet". 80 per cent of Iceland works on geothermal energy, which can help India in its renewable energy programme.

The visit to Iceland is significant given the fact that it is the chair of the Arctic Council and is involved in the Arctic Circle Cooperation. New Delhi is an observer at the Arctic Council and is keen on increasing its engagement with that part of the world. This will be the first time when the president visits a Nordic country.

This will be followed by a visit to Switzerland from September 11 to 15. President Kovind will unveil a bust of 'father of nation' Mahatma Gandhi in Villeneuve. Gandhi had visited the place in 1931. Kovind will also hold an address the University of Bern on the topic "India-Switzerland, new age partnership, connecting Himalayas with Alps".

On the issue of black money, both the countries started the automatic exchange of financial account information with India started receiving information from Sept 1 with respect to all financial accounts held by Indian residents in Switzerland. The President will visit Slovenia from September 15 to 19.

Interestingly, Bollywood is keen to tap the scenic beauty of these countries. While Switzerland is well known as a location to shoot Bollywood movies, Shah Rukh Khan's movie Dilwale's song 'Gerua' was shot in the south coast of Iceland.

This is for the eleventh time when the President will go abroad after taking charge. This will be his second foreign visit during the third year of his tenure.  

President Kovind has been on a state visit to 23 countries in the 11 visits. After the 3-nation tour, the number of his foreign visits will go up to 26. Other European countries he has visited include Cyprus, Bulgaria, Czech Republic and Croatia.