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India, EU to combat terror, piracy


New Delhi : India and the European Union will enhance their counter-terror cooperation and step up efforts to combat piracy off the coast of Somalia, EU’s chief diplomat Catherine Ashton said here Wednesday.

Ashton, the EU’s high representative for foreign affairs and security policy and the first vice president of the European Commission, also expressed concern about recent reports about Pakistan’s spy agency ISI’s involvement in fomenting insurgency in Afghanistan.

“In the EU, we are looking at fusion centres to bring different strands of intelligence on terrorist activities together,” Ashton said.

The two sides will step up collaboration in counter-terrorism, Ashton said, adding that it will also enable the EU to learn from India’s experience in dealing with terrorism.

The issue figured in Ashton’s discussions with Home Minister P. Chidambaram Thursday and National Security Advisor Shivshankar Menon Wednesday.

“India could take over rotating command structures designed to combat piracy,” she said.

Seeking cooperation with India in combating piracy, Ashton stressed on the importance of regional leadership in tackling not only piracy at sea but also in tackling its roots on land.

Lauding India’s role in reconstruction of Afghanistan, Ashton sought to play down reports that the EU did not want India to scale up its role in the violence-torn country, saying it was for New Delhi to decide and work out its role in that country.

Ashton expressed the EU’s unease with recent reports suggesting an increasing involvement of ISI in Afghanistan.

She, however, added that the EU was engaged in bolstering the civilian government in Islamabad to tackle terrorism that affects the whole region.

Alluding to the ongoing negotiations for a broad-based trade and investment agreement, Ashton said that it may not be signed at the forthcoming summit.

Ashton began her four-day visit to India Monday night.

During her discussions with External Affairs Minister S.M. Krishna Wednesday, the two sides firmed up the agenda for the India-EU summit that Brussels will host in October this year.

Defence and counter-terror cooperation figured prominently in the discussions. The EU’s anti-terrorism coordinator Gilles de Kerchove and head of EU military staff General Ton Van Osch also participated in the discussions.