New Delhi: The President of India, Shri Ram Nath Kovind landed in Reykjavik, Iceland, yesterday (September 9, 2019) in the first leg of his visit to – Iceland, Switzerland and Slovenia. This is the first visit of an Indian President to Iceland since the visit of Dr Kalam in 2005.
Today (September 10, 2019), the President commenced his engagements with visit to Bessastadir Presidential Residence where he was received by Mr Gudni Johannesson, the President of Iceland and accorded a ceremonial welcome.
During the subsequent one-to-one discussions with President Johannesson, the President thanked him for warm reception and hospitality. He appreciated Iceland’s lead in tackling climate change and managing the health of oceans. He assured India’s steadfast support on both these counts. The President congratulated him for Iceland taking over as chair of the Arctic Council in May 2019. He said that India, as an observer, would actively participate and contribute to the deliberations. Subsequently, the President led delegation-level talks between the two sides.
Both sides agreed that terrorism poses a grave threat to humanity and committed to work together to strengthen the global fight against terrorism. President Kovind thanked President Johannesson for his understanding for India’s core concerns; India has been a victim of cross border terrorism for several decades. Both sides agreed that terrorism was the worst violation of basic human rights and it needs to be dealt with strongly in whichever form it appears.
On the economic side, there is significant potential to strengthen Iceland-India partnership. Both sides discussed how ways and means to expand trade, investment, technology and innovation collaborations. With India having set a target to become a five trillion dollar economy by 2025, India’s transformative growth and Iceland’s technology and know-how can add immense value to each other.
India agreed to cooperate closely with Iceland on climate change, marine litter and other environment related issues. The President said that India wants to combine its economic progress with clean technology. He expressed that India is keen to leverage Iceland’s capacity in sustainable fishery, marine economy, shipping, green growth, energy, construction and agriculture sectors. Meanwhile, Indian companies can offer opportunities to Iceland in the fields of pharma, high-end IT services, biotechnology, automobile, innovation and start-ups.
India and Iceland also signed and exchanged three agreements in fields of fisheries collaboration, cultural cooperation and visa waiver for holders of diplomatic and official passport. President Kovind announced that teaching of Hindi language at University of Iceland will begin shortly and that all formalities for setting up that India supported Hindi Chair at the University of Iceland have been completed.
A press statement made by President Kovind on the occasion is attached. Later in the day, the President addressed the students and faculty members of the University of Iceland on the theme “India-Iceland for a Greener planet”.
The President said that today, we have an increasing number of global forums where we are discussing environment protection, biodiversity conservation, carbon sinks and green growth. And yet, despite extensive knowledge on the subject, we are witness to rapidly melting glaciers and ice caps, extreme weather events, depleting marine resources, receding forests and shrinking of biodiversity. Clearly, increase in knowledge and availability of scientific evidence have not led to adequate practical action to deal with climate change and environmental degradation.
The President said that India is today the world’s fastest growing major economy and we require a huge expansion of our energy production. But we are doing it in a sustainable manner. Even as we grow, we are on course to meet our commitments under the Paris Agreement.
The President said that India has pledged to eliminate single-use plastic by 2022. He also said that in order to conserve water and ensure piped water availability across the country, India has undertaken an ambitious national water programme. It would nourish our ecology and habitat, while quenching the thirst of millions.
In the evening, the President will attend a banquet hosted in his honour by the President of Iceland. Yesterday evening (September 9, 2019), the President attended the Indian Community and Friends of India Reception, hosted by Shri T. Armstrong Changsan, Ambassador of India to Iceland.
The President said that India is on a transformational growth path. We have set a target to become a five trillion dollar economy by 2025. Major reform process is underway. He invited Indian diaspora to be part of India’s transformative journey. He said that they have an important role to play in forging technology, investment, tourism and cultural links and strengthening India’s ties with Iceland and the world.