European Union delegation in India to gauge reaction to Trump admin

New Delhi, Feb 20: An European Union delegation is here to gauge India’s assessment of the new American administration and possible engagement between the two sides, amid Europe’s mounting concern over Donald Trump’s foreign policy rhetoric.

Geoffrey Van Orden, Chair of The European Parliament Delegation for relations with India, said major changes were taking place in the global scene and EU was keen to know about New Delhi’s reactions to them.

He also said EU was also keen to know about India’s concerns over “upsurge” in incidents of violence in Jammu and Kashmir, India’s ties with Pakistan and ways to deal with threat of terrorism.

“We are here to judge (India’s) reaction to some of the major changes which are taking place at the global scene, India’s reaction to the new US administration,” Orden, leading a six-member delegation, told reporters.

The delegation is meeting Finance Minister Arun Jaitley, Commerce Minister Nirmala Sitharaman and Minister of State for External Affairs V K Singh among others.

The visit by the delegation comes in the midst of anxiety in Europe over Trump administration’s possible stand on NATO, the European Union and various other issues.

The EU is one of India’s leading trade partner and the two-way commerce in goods between India and the powerful bloc was USD 98.5 billion in 2014-15.

Orden said though various parts of the world were grappling with instability, EU considers India to be a “stable” country to do business with.

Referring to the Kashmir issue, he talked about attacks on India’s security forces in the valley but at the same time added that there has been a spurt in terrorist strikes in Pakistan and that Islamabad was facing a serious problem to contain the menace.

“We would like to see a situation where the two countries have an open relationship,” Orden said, adding there are forces in Jammu and Kashmir which want to disrupt any progress in Indo-Pak ties.

Asked about Europe’s concerns over cases of human rights violations by Indian security forces, he called it a “difficult territory” and that “time to time, things happen” in dealing with terrorists.

He said, at times, actions by security forces are regrettable but it was difficult to judge whether they are genuine human rights issue.

“We have seen more activity going on in European Parliament where people are trying again to work up the Kashmir issue.