27 April, 2007
President of the Republic Karolos Papoulias on Thursday met with the President of India, Dr. Abdul Kalam, who is on a state visit to Greece, the first such visit by an Indian head of state in 21 years.
The Indian head of state was later received by Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis at the latter’s Maximos Mansion office.
Two noteworthy agreements were signed by the Greek and Indian delegations: one on cooperation in science and technology signed on behalf of the two governments by Development Minister Dimitris Sioufas and India's Minister of State for New and Renewable Energy Sources Vilas Muttemwar; and the other on the promotion and mutual protection of investments, signed by Deputy Economy Minister Christos Folias and the Indian ambassador in Athens Dr. Bhaskar Balakrishnan.
In a joint statement after their meeting, the two presidents stressed Greece's and India's common goal for commercial exchanges between the two countries to reach and exceed one billion euros in 2010, while Kalam noted that India planned to invest more than 300 billion dollars in infrastructure over the next decade.
Papoulias announced that Greece and India would work jointly towards wiping out the scourge of illegal trafficking of persons, a problem which he said "injures human dignity and shames society".
Asked whether they discussed international issues, such as Iran's nuclear programme, the Middle East or the Cyprus issue, Kalam noted that over the past 50 years his country has placed great emphasis on development and for this reason has used nuclear energy for peaceful purposes, such as electricity supply and in the agricultural sector, among others.
"We do not meddle in the affairs of our neighbours. However, we generally believe that there will be, and must be, disarma-ment of the entire region. But this must be an initiative that is supported by all the sides involved," he said.
On Iran's nuclear programme, Kalam replied that it should continue, provided it is used for strictly peaceful purposes.
Papoulias said talks were held in a very friendly climate, which was an exceptionally auspicious sign for the further develop-ment of relations between the two countries.
"President Kalam has come with a large delegation of politicians, scientists and technocrats, which reflects the importance he places on cooperation between our two countries," Papoulias said, adding that there were "many sectors for cooperation between the two countries, given that India is interested in the development of tourism and renewal energy sources, in which it holds one of the top positions in the world".
Papoulias said he was absolutely satisfied with the outcome of the talks, and expressed certainty that the development of multi-faceted relations between Greece and India would be rapid.
After meeting Papoulias, the Indian president also had a meeting with Greek Tourism Development Minister Fani Palli-Petralia to discuss bilateral cooperation in the tourism sector.
After the meeting, Petralia noted that both Greece and India have a strong interest in the tourism industry and very cordial relations, while the meeting set the seal on a bilateral cooperation accord signed between the two countries.
Kalam arrived in Athens on Wednesday for a four-day state visit to Greece, leading a high ranking delegation, including minister of state for New and Renewable Energy Sources Vilas Muttemwar, Rajya Sabha (Council of States, the upper house of the Indian parliament) members T.R. Zeiland and Pyaremohan Mohapatra, four eminent scientists and senior officials.
This visit comes 21 years after the last State visit by an Indian President to Greece in November 1986.
Earlier, Kalam was awarded the Gold Medal of Merit of the City of Athens by Athens Mayor Nikitas Kaklamanis during a ceremony at city hall.
Parliament president meets with visiting Indian president
Parliamnet President Anna Psarouda-Benaki met on Thursday with visiting Indian President Dr. Abdul Kalam.
The Greek official termed Kalam's visit a "strong link in the relationship between the two states and peoples", ties based on "common cultural values and convictions regarding peace, respect of human rights and democracy."
She also noted that Greece supports a cooperation agreement linking India and the European Union.
The Indian president referred, on his part, to "the positive momentum created on an international level by such coopera-tion between nations", while he expressed the Indian people's "feelings of friendship and respect towards Greece."
The Indian President also met with main opposition PASOK leader George Papandreou.
Source: Athens News Agency