Monday, May 26, 2003, Chandigarh, India





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PM leaves for 3-nation tour tomorrow
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, May 25
Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee embarks on a crucial three-nation tour of Germany, Russia and France on May 27 during which he will be meeting top world leaders and discuss economic and terrorism-related issues with them.

During his eight-day trip, Mr Vajpayee will be meeting a galaxy of world leaders, including US President George W Bush, Russian President Vladimir Putin, Chinese President Ho Jintao, German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder and top leaders of France.

Mr Vajpayee will be accompanied by a high-level delegation. He will visit Germany on a bilateral visit and then Russia to attend the tricentenary celebrations of the historic city of St Petersburg and finally the French alpine town of Evian on the last leg of his tour to participate in the G-8 meeting.

Almost all top world leaders, including the US President and the Chinese President, will be at St Petersburg and then at Evian.

Mr Vajpayee is scheduled to reach Berlin on Tuesday evening. The next day he will be meeting German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder, German President Johanne Rau and Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer. Bilateral trade is likely to top the agenda of talks between Mr Vajpayee and the German leaders as the German Government has already stated that expanding trade ties with India is its top priority. Germany is a major source of foreign direct investment (FDI) and technology in India. Germany is also Indiaís largest provider of development assistance after Japan.

Mr Vajpayee will leave for Munich the next day where he is scheduled to address a meeting of the captains of the German industry, being organised by the CII and the local chamber of commerce.

The Prime Minister will reach St Petersburg on May 30 to participate in its 300th anniversary functions. With a population of 4.9 million people, St Petersburg, one of the most beautiful cities in Europe, has played a vital role in the Russian history.

An important highlight of this leg of the Prime Ministerís tour will be a meeting with President Putin. The Indo-Russian annual summit will be held in St Petersburg. The last summit between the two leaders was held in New Delhi in December last.

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