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EU, India agree to set up trade and technology council

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The European Union and India plan to launch a joint trade and technology council on Monday in an effort to deepen cooperation between the two regions, according to Bloomberg.

“Both sides agreed that rapid changes in the geopolitical environment highlight the need for joint in-depth strategic engagement,” European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said in a statement. The agreement will allow them to coordinate technical work and report to the political level, she said.

The push is part of a broader EU plan to accelerate trade talks with India, according to a person familiar with the talks. The bloc is seeking to give India a viable alternative to diversify away from Russia, said the person, who asked not to be identified because the talks are private.

Von der Leyen is planning to meet with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Monday. The EU is India’s third-largest trading partner and accounts for 62.8 billion euros ($67.8 billion) worth of trade in goods.

The EU and U.S. both are trying to establish closer ties with India, which is the world’s top buyer of Russian weapons. The country says it needs the weapons to deter aggression from neighbors Pakistan and China.