PM Nehru visited Austria in 1955; Indira Gandhi in 1983

NewsDrum Desk
New Update

New Delhi, Jul 7 (PTI) Prime Minister Narendra Modi's upcoming visit to Austria will be the first prime ministerial visit from India to that country in 41 years, the last being of Indira Gandhi in 1983.

Modi's official visit on July 9-10 comes when India and Austria mark 75 years of their diplomatic relations.

Jawaharlal Nehru travelled to Austria in 1955 in the first prime ministerial visit since diplomatic ties were established in 1949.

"India and Austria have had a regular exchange of visits including at the level of leaders, ministers and parliamentarians highlighting the importance that both countries accord to further strengthening their relations," according to a profile of India-Austria bilateral relations put up on the website of the Ministry of External Affairs.

It also shares the history of PM-level and President-level visits from India to Austria.

Then prime minister Indira Gandhi visited Austria in 1971 which was followed by the visit of then Austrian chancellor Bruno Kreisky in 1980. Gandhi's visit in 1983 was followed by the visit of then chancellor Fred Sinowatz in 1984, it said.

Gandhi was in Vienna from June 16-18 during her 1983 visit, people familiar with the matter said.

While there have been no prime ministerial visits from India since Indira Gandhi's visit, there have been President-level visits to the country.

The then president K R Narayanan visited Austria in 1999; then president Heinz Fischer visited in 2005; then Austrian Vice Chancellor Josef Proll in 2010; and then president Pratibha Devisingh Patil in 2011, according to the profile on the MEA website.

Foreign Secretary Vinay Kwatra on Friday briefed media about Prime Minister Modi's upcoming tour to Russia and Austria from July 8-10.

The prime minister will pay an official visit to Moscow on July 8-9 at the invitation of Russian President Vladimir Putin for the 22nd India-Russia Annual Summit.

In the second leg of the trip, Modi will be visiting Austria on July 9-10 at the invitation of the Chancellor of Austria.

"This will be Prime Minister Narendra Modi's first visit to Austria. Prime Minister had met then Austrian Chancellor, who's now the Foreign Minister, His Excellency Schallenberg, in October 2021 on the sidelines of COP26 in Glasgow.

"The last prime ministerial visit from India to Austria took place more than 40 years ago," the foreign secretary said.

Modi during his visit will call on the President of Austria and "hold restricted delegation-level talks as also a high-level business engagement in Austria" besides having an interaction with the Indian community in Vienna.

Kwatra said Austria offers "excellent opportunities" for bilateral cooperation in infrastructure, renewable energy, high technology areas, start-up sectors, media and entertainment.

External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar had visited Austria from December 31, 2022, to January 3, 2023.

During the visit, he had met with Austrian Federal President Alexander Van der Bellen, Chancellor Karl Nehammer and President of the National Counci, Wolfgang Sobotka.

He held delegation-level talks with the Austrian Foreign Minister, Alexander Schallenberg.

Five agreements were also signed during the visit, according to the bilateral relations profile dated June 2023.

During Austrian Foreign Minister Schallenberg's visit to India in 2022, both ministers had discussed the "entire gamut of bilateral relations, including political, economic, commercial and consular ties".

Ahead of his visit to Austria, Prime Minister Modi on Sunday said the shared values of democracy, freedom and the rule of law form the bedrock upon which the two countries will build an ever-closer partnership.

Modi's remark came a day after Austrian Chancellor Karl Nehammer posted on 'X', "I very much look forward to welcoming Narendra Modi, the Prime Minister of India, the world's largest democracy, next week in Vienna." "This visit is a special honour as it marks the first visit by an Indian Prime Minister in over 40 years and a significant milestone as we celebrate 75 years of diplomatic relations with India," he said.

"We will have the opportunity to talk about further deepening our bilateral relationship and closer cooperation on the many geopolitical challenges," the Austrian chancellor said.

Responding to Nehammer, Modi said, "Thank you, Chancellor Karl Nehammer. It is indeed an honour to visit Austria to mark this historic occasion.

"I look forward to our discussions on strengthening the bonds between our nations and exploring new avenues of cooperation." Austria is known for its rich cultural and architectural heritage with Vienna renowned for its legacy of orchestral music and legendary composers.

"The visit of India's philosopher-poet and Nobel Laureate Rabindranath Tagore twice to Vienna -- in 1921 and 1926 -- was one of the crucial bridges of cultural and intellectual exchange between India and Austria," the MEA website said. PTI KND RT RT