Monday, October 7, 2002, Chandigarh, India


M A I N   N E W S

PM leaves for Europe today
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, October 6
Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee leaves for a week-long tour to Europe tomorrow and will intensify India’s efforts to seek an early deportation of underworld kingpin Abu Salem.

Mr Vajpayee will argue for the case of deporting Abu Salem during the India-EU summit to be held in Copenhagen on October 10.

India has been buliding pressure to convince Portugal to deport Abu Salem and his wife Monica Bedi. Abu Salem, a former aide of underworld don Dawood Ibrahim, is wanted in India for a number of heinous crimes, including the serial blasts in Mumbai in 1993.

Mr Vajpayee will also use the opportunity to present the successful ongoing Assembly elections in Jammu and Kashmir and to articulate New Delhi’s views on Pakistan’s continued support to cross-border terrorism.

The Prime Minister will visit Cyprus, Denmark and Britain during the week-long tour. The Prime Minister will be accompanied by National Security Adviser and Principal Secretary Brajesh Mishra and Foreign Secretary Kanwal Sibal.

British Prime Minister Tony Blair and Mr Vajpayee will hold one-to-one talks on the entire gamut of issues, including the global campaign against terrorism and the emerging situation in Iraq.

Mr Vajpayee will meet Mr Blair for the fourth time this year.

In London, the Prime Minister will attend a reception hosted by Indian High Commissioner Ronen Sen on October 12. He will return home the next day.

Foreign Secretary Kanwal Sibal said the institutionalisation of annual Indo-EU summits since June, 2000, when the first one was held in Lisbon, was a “demonstration of the new depth and maturity of our relations with the EU’’.

“It is hoped that the discussions and exchange of views on bilateral relations and important international developments and current issues of mutual concern will help to consolidate the many positive trends in our relationship in recent years,’’ Mr Sibal said.

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