Indian PM Narendra Modi invites Taoiseach to visit

Honorary consulate in economic capital Mumbai could be full consulate – Varadkar

Leo Varadkar said he would like ‘to visit India in the future but no arrangements have been made as yet’. Photograph: Facunda Arrizabalaga/EPA

Leo Varadkar said he would like ‘to visit India in the future but no arrangements have been made as yet’. Photograph: Facunda Arrizabalaga/EPA

 

Indian prime minister Narendra Modi has invited Taoiseach Leo Varadkar to visit India.

Mr Varadkar said that in a congratulatory phone call after his election as Taoiseach, Mr Modi “asked that I bring my family with me”. The Taoiseach’s father is from Mumbai in India.

Speaking in the Dáil on Tuesday, Mr Varadkar said he would like “to visit India in the future but no arrangements have been made as yet”.

Mr Varadkar also expressed plans to expand diplomatic representation in India and particularly in Mumbai, “one of the largest cities in the world and very much India’s economic capital”.

The Indian premier visited Ireland last year and while the Taoiseach invited him to do so again “it might be some time before an Indian prime minister is able to visit again”.

Sinn Féin deputy leader Mary Lou McDonald highlighted bilateral trade with India of $1.2 billion (€1 billion) from 2014 to 2015, including telecommunications equipment, computer accessories, precision equipment and pharmaceuticals.

Bilateral ties

Fianna Fáil public expenditure spokesman Dara Calleary highlighted links between former taoiseach and president Eamon de Valera and Indian politicians of the time, and he referred to bilateral ties in science policy.

Labour finance spokeswoman Joan Burton asked about the Taoiseach’s plans to expand Ireland’s diplomatic representation abroad.

“Currently, we have an embassy in India as well as four honorary consulates,” and she asked if any would be transformed into full consulates.

Mr Varadkar said Mumbai “could perhaps” have a consulate given its size and economic prominence. “I imagine it is the kind of place where an . . . operation involving the IDA, Enterprise Ireland, Bord Bia and a consulate would be very appropriate.”

Speaking about a potential Indian visit, he said “there are of course a number of other places that I need to visit, particularly with so many European issues on the agenda. I have plans to visit a number of European countries over the next couple of months if I can.”