PM to leave for 3-nation tour on Wednesday

Prime Minister Narendra Modi will embark on a three-nation tour on Wednesday, during which he will hold a bilateral summit with the European Union (EU) in Brussels, attend the Nuclear Security Summit (NSS) in Washington, and become the first Indian PM to go to Saudi Arabia in six years.

Modi will be in Brussels on Wednesday for the first India-EU summit in four years. His office has announced that the terrorist attacks in the city will not alter his plans.

European Union Ambassador to India Tomasz Kozlowski said in a media interaction that India was an extremely important partner and the economic and social agenda of the Indian government was especially attractive. He said the relationship had not met both sides' expectations despite the potential.

With India being an important trading partner of the 28-nation bloc, he said the EU was "really interested" in completing a free trade agreement with India.

Modi had met the Presidents of the European Commission and European Council, Jean-Claude Juncker and Donald Tusk, respectively on the sidelines of the G20 Summit in Antalya, Turkey last November.

Modi will be in Washington the next day for the NSS, expected to be attended by leaders of around 50 countries.

On his way back, Modi will stop in Riyadh. This assumes significance in the face of the current regional situation and strained relations between the Gulf kingdom and Iran, another strategically important country for India.

Saudi Arabia is also the place of livelihood for nearly three million Indian expatriates, mostly blue-collar workers.