Khurshid meets Ashton,talks FTA, energy cooperatn

Brussels: The European Union today pledged its commitment to conclude an early Free Trade Agreement with India, as External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid held talks with EU High Representative Catherine Ashton here.
Addressing a press conference with Khurshid, Ashton said the European bloc was keen to to develop links with India on political and security issues, trade and investment, science and technology, and energy.
She said economic cooperation was high on the bilateral agenda.
Khurshid is on his first visit to the EU, during which he is visiting Belgium and Germany with an intention to have discussions on enhancing common approaches to address new and emerging challenges apart from ways to push the long-pending India-EU trade accord.
"We have been talking about the strong strategic partnership between the European Union and India. And the opportunities we have to expand that partnership into new areas, where we have many shared values. Our partnership features regular political consultations and growing ties between our civil societies which we place great value upon," Ashton said.
She said the India-EU relationship, which has been founded on close cultural and historical ties, has become "wider and deeper" since the Strategic Partnership was established in 2004.
"We also work together with the common objective of promoting global peace, stability and prosperity. And as we have discussed today, we are also committed to ensuring that we conclude our Free Trade Agreement as rapidly as possible," said Ashton, according to an official statement.
The talks took stock of the bilateral ties as well as important regional and international issues.