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New business and old ties on agenda as Modi tours Europe

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi will depart Monday for a four-nation tour of Europe that will include strategic talks with historic ally Russia and with key trading partner Germany.

Modi will first be hosted by Chancellor Angela Merkel at Germany’s official state guest house in Brandenburg, where the two leaders will jointly address a meeting of top business leaders.

Germany is India’s number-one trading partner in Europe, and Modi has been seeking greater investment and business arrangements between local and foreign firms under his “Make in India” campaign.

Modi will then depart for Spain for further business talks in a roundtable with CEOs, India’s foreign ministry said in a statement.

The longstanding strategic alliance between Russia and India will be canvassed when Modi meets President Vladimir Putin ahead of the International Economic Forum in St Petersburg on June 2.

India has enjoyed historically close ties with Russia, which for years was a key ally and top arms supplier, but Moscow’s recent decision to support the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor has rattled New Delhi.

India has voiced displeasure at the project aimed at linking northwestern China to the Arabian Sea, as it passes through the disputed territory of Kashmir.

Modi will wrap up his six-day tour with a stop in France to meet newly-elected President Emmanuel Macron.