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Indian PM Narendra Modi pays tribute to Brussels attack victims

The Indian leader has paid his respects to those who died in terror attacks in Brussels last week. Modi was in the EU capital to discuss trade and counterterrorism with the bloc.

Flanked by Belgian Foreign Minister Didier Reynders, Narendra Modi paid his respects to victims of the

March 22 bomb attack at Brussels' Maelbeek station.

An Indian was among 32 people who died in twin strikes at Maelbeek and the city's international airport.

"Last week has been a sad week for Belgium," Modi said in a speech together with his Belgian counterpart Charles Michel. "Having experienced terrorist violence ourselves on countless occasions, we share your pain … In this time of crisis, the whole of India stands in full support and solidarity with the Belgian people," he added.

The Indian Ministry of External Affairs tweeted a link to the prime minister's statement:

The Indian prime minister was

on a one-day trip to the Belgian capital

to attend the 13th EU-India summit, the last of which was held in 2012. The talks were expected to focus on counterterrorism strategies and trade.

Sticky points in EU-India trade

According to Indian diplomats, efforts would be made to further negotiations on the Broad-based Trade and Investment Agreement (BTIA), which began in 2007. The bloc, which is India's largest trading partner, has urged India to remove tariffs on cars, car parts, wine and spirits. EU exports to India totaled 38 billion euros (42.6 billion dollars) last year, while exports from India to the EU were around 40 billion dollars.

Meanwhile, medical charity Doctors Without Borders urged the Indian leader to refrain from any agreement that would jeopardize the country's ability to produce generic medicines. "India is an important source for affordable life-saving generics, upon which the lives of millions of people across the world depends … Any strike against this pharmacy of the poor would have catastrophic consequences," Joanne Liu of Doctors Without Borders said in a statement.

India was also expected to sort out ties with Italy, after New Delhi accused two Italian marines of killing two Indian fishermen off the southwestern Indian coastal state of Kerala. Rome contends the killing happened on international waters, while India says the incident happened within its territory and that it should have rights to try the men.

Following the EU-India meeting, Modi is expected to attend the Nuclear Security Summit in Washington between March 31 and April 1 and travel to Saudi Arabia on April 2.

mg/rc (AFP, dpa)

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