India, EU To Sign Agreements During Italian PM's Visit
India and the European Union will sign two agreements to boost trade and investment at the fourth India-EU summit this week during a visit by Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, European diplomats said.
One agreement is on customs co-operation to facilitate trade, while the other is to improve maritime ties, aimed at reducing shipping times and costs, said the ambassador of the European Commission (news - web sites) Francisco da Camera Gomes.
The centrepiece of the one-day summit on Saturday will be India's formal commitment to the Galileo project, the 3.2 billion euro European satellite project meant to rival the Global Positioning System (news - web sites) run by the US Defence Department.
India is set to take a 350 million-dollar (300 million-euro) stake in project, which is bigger than China's stake, Gomes said.
Galileo, due to be operational by 2008, will feature 30 satellites capable of tracking everything from aircraft to cars. Both India and the EU say the system will be for civilian use only.
"The Galileo declaration is not yet a final agreement. Negotiations are in the early phases ... what remains to be negotiated is the practical technicalities," Gomes said.
Italy's ambassador to India, Bennetto Amari, whose country currently holds the presidency of the EU, said the summit would send out a series of messages to the international community.
"The first would be a renewed engagement of the EU and India for strengthening the United Nations (news - web sites) and a reconfirmation of our efforts to make a the United Nations central to international life," Amari said.
The EU will also "recognise" India's efforts to preserve its democracy, Amari said.
Another message from the summit would be that terrorism has no place or justification, can hit everybody, every country and needs a collective response, he said.
Both sides would review regional crises -- in Afghanistan (news - web sites), the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, Iraq (news - web sites), and the situation in Sri Lanka and Nepal, Amari said.
On Iraq, Amari said differences among EU member states on American action against Baghdad had reduced.
Italy, along with Britain and Spain, has been supportive of US action in Iraq, while the EU's two biggest members, France and Germany, have been bitter critics of Washington's policies.
Amari said India's role in the Iraq crisis had been appreciated by the EU.
New Delhi quietly opposed the war in Iraq and refused a US request to send peacekeeping troops.
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Boeing To Upgrade GPS 2F Series Birds As Military Needs Increase
St Louis - Nov 19, 2003
The U.S. Air Force has awarded Boeing a $142.5 million fixed-price-incentive-fee contract for three additional Global Positioning System (GPS) satellites. This action authorizes modernization and production of GPS-IIF satellites numbers four through six, and the production of long-lead parts for IIF satellites seven through nine.