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Queen Beatrix arrives on state visit tomorrow

October 23, 2007 14:40 IST

Queen Beatrix of The Netherlands will begin a four-day state visit to India on Wednesday during which the two sides are expected to explore ways to strengthen bilateral ties, particularly in trade and economy sectors.

The Queen will be accompanied by Prince of Orange William-Alexander and his spouse Princess Maxima, Foreign Minister Maxime Verhagen and a high-level business delegation comprising CEOs of eight top companies.

During the visit, the first in 21 years, the Queen will meet President Pratibha Patil and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh besides some other leaders.

The discussions will focus on enhancement of ties, especially in the fields of trade and investment. The visit will give India an opportunity to brief the Dutch leadership about the Indo-US nuclear deal with expectation of support of the Nuclear Suppliers Group member country.

India wants the 45-member NSG to change its guidelines so that it can commence international nuclear commerce. Dutch officials have adopted a "wait and watch" approach on the nuclear deal and would like to see the outcome of the discussions India holds with the International Atomic Energy Agency for the safeguards agreement.

The talks with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh will focus on improving bilateral ties, particularly in trade. The two leaders will also attend a Round table of CEOs of eight top companies based in The Netherlands with their Indian counterparts. 

Among the CEOs likely to attend the Round table are Gerard Kleisterlee of consumer durables major Philips, Bert Heemskerk of Rabobank, Michel Tilmant of banking giant ING and Peter Hartman of Dutch airlines KLM. At the roundtable, the CEOs will have a "frank" discussion to explore new avenues to take the trade relations into the "new era".

The bilateral trade between the two countries amounts to $2.28 billion and the business houses are keen to double it in the next five years. Besides enhancing trade relations, the focus of the visit will be on three main sectors -- ecology, water and micro-finance.

The Queen will visit The Energy and Research Institute to learn about ecological developments in India, watch children receiving instructions on health and hygiene in a school run by NGO Deepalaya, and attend a seminar on synergy between water management and micro-finance.

During her two-day stay in Bangalore, she will visit two villages, Srinivasnagar and Ujivan, and an NGO Myrada which runs a training centre that informs self-help groups on micro-finance schemes.

On the last day of her visit, Queen Beatrix will have a meeting with four eminent Indians -- M S Swaminathan, Verghese Kurien, K Kasturirangan and N R Narayanamurthy -- who have contributed to revolutionising the development of their respective fields of agriculture, milk production, space programme and information technology.

The Queen's last state visit was in 1986 but she, along with the Dutch royal family, had spent her millennium-eve holidays in 1999 on a private visit to Rajasthan.

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