“Your Excellency, Prime Minister Vanhanen, Members of the Press,

I would like to thank His Excellency Prime Minister Vanhanen for his gracious hospitality. Relations between India and Finland turned a new leaf when the Prime Minister Vanhanen visited India in March this year.

It has been a pleasure and a privilege to visit Helsinki on this bilateral visit which also coincides with the Finnish Presidency of the European Union. The 7th India-EU Summit will be held tomorrow. We are delighted that this meeting will take place under Finnish Presidency.

During our discussions today, Prime Minister Vanhanen and I agreed that India and Finland have vast complementarities which must be fully exploited. Finland is one of the fastest growing economies among the OECD countries. It is a world leader in areas such as telecommunications, information technology and bio-technology.

We discussed the opportunities provided by India’s sustained economic growth rates of over 8% and its recognition as a safe, secure and profitable investment destination. India offers advantages of a pool of highly qualified scientific talent and a skilled workforce in the manufacturing and service sectors.

Prime Minister Vanhanen had inaugurated a Nokia plant in Chennai during his March visit. A number of other Finnish companies have also entered the Indian markets and we welcome their presence.

We are encouraged by the fact that in turn a number of Indian companies are investing in high-tech Finnish firms.

Looking at these developments, we believe that there is a huge potential for expansion of our trade and investment ties. We have agreed to work jointly to double our trade over the next two years.

We are glad that Finnair will be operating direct air services between Helsinki and New Delhi from October 30.

We also discussed the need to strengthen international initiatives in combating terrorism. India has been a victim of terrorism. I appreciate the support and solidarity extended by Finland.

Meeting the challenges of globalisation requires the strengthening of multilateral institutions such as the UN and WTO. We value our dialogue with Finland which has a proven record of contribution to effective multilateral initiatives.

I would like to thank Prime Minister Vanhanen for the excellent quality of our discussions and for his deep personal commitment to developing close relations with India.

I will have the honour of calling on the President of Finland tomorrow.

Thank you.”

Helsinki
October 12, 2006

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