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India and the European Union agreed Monday to establish a trade and technology council in an effort to deepen cooperation as the bloc and other Western leaders urge New Delhi to weaken its ties to Russia, Reuters reported.

The mechanism’s formation follows a two-day visit by European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, who said that both India and the EU are facing “a challenging political landscape.”

The new Trade and Technology Council aims to tackle challenges involving trade, trusted technology and security, according to the Hindustan Times. In a joint statement, the EU and India said that “rapid changes in the geopolitical environment highlight the need for joint in-depth strategic engagement.”

This is the first time that India has agreed to set up such a council with a trade partner. The EU already has such an arrangement with the United States.

A senior EU official added that the bloc will also offer to increase sales of European military equipment to India and relaunch negotiations for a free trade deal.

The EU chief is the latest top official to visit India since the start of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, a list that includes British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, as well as the foreign ministers of Russia and China.

India has called for an end to the war in Ukraine but refrained from explicitly condemning Russia – one of its main trade partners.

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