Acknowledging Belgium's "upfront support" for making an exception for India in Nuclear Suppliers Group, President Pranab Mukherjee today said a clear public stand by the country favouring India's bid to become a full member of four major arms control regimes would be in line with excellent bilateral cooperation.
President Mukherjee, in his opening remarks at the talks with Belgian Prime Minister Elio Di Rupa, said India attaches great importance to its relations with Belgium and hoped that the two countries strengthen economic ties.
"I would also like to acknowledge Belgium's upfront support for creating an exception for India in the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) to enable us to enter into international cooperation in the area of civilian nuclear energy," Mukherjee, on a four-day state visit here, said.
Expressing hope that Belgium will continue its constructive approach and will support India's efforts to become a full member of the four arms control regimes, namely, NSG, Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR), Wassenaar Arrangement and Australia Group, the President said "a clear public stance by Belgium on this issue would be in line with our excellent cooperation."
NSG has 47 members, MTCR has 34 countries as its members, Wassenaar Arrangement, an order which is for the promotion of regional security, international security and stability by offering transparency and greater responsibility in transfers of conventional arms, dual-use goods and technologies, has 41 members.
The Australia Group, an informal forum of countries which seeks to ensure that exports do not contribute to the development of chemical and biological weapons, has 42 members. Belgium is a member of all these groups.
President Mukherjee, the first Indian Head of the State to visit Belgium, also thanked the country for its support of India's candidature to a permanent seat in an expanded United Nations Security Council.
Dwelling on the economic relations between the two countries, Mukherjee said that the last few years have seen a difficult economic environment in Europe and elsewhere.
"While the momentum in bilateral trade could not be sustained in 2012, we hope that it will regain momentum in 2013 and that we will be able to achieve the target that we set for ourselves to double our bilateral trade from 8.8 billion Euros in 2008 in the next five years," he said.
Trade between Belgium and India stands at 12.15 billion Euros in 2012.