New Delhi– India and Malta on Tuesday discussed ways to strengthen ties across various sectors during a meeting between External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj and Maltese Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade Promotion Carmelo Abela here.

According to a statement issued by the External Affairs Ministry, the two leaders held discussions on various aspects of bilateral ties as well as important regional and multilateral issues of mutual interest.

“The discussions between the two Ministers focused on building closer cooperation in the areas of trade and investment, trade fairs, financial services, information technology and tourism,” it stated.

India and Malta share a rich common heritage in the context of Commonwealth and relations between the two countries have strengthened considerably in recent years with India reopening its resident mission in Malta last year. The nation in the central Mediterranean Sea is also home to a 400-strong Indian community.

External Affairs Ministry spokesperson Raveesh Kumar tweeted that both India and Malta shared the common heritage of the Commonwealth.

Efforts are on to revive the relevance of this grouping of former British colonies and this year’s Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) will be held in Britain next month.

“India was one of the first countries to recognise independence of Malta in 1964 and the two countries established diplomatic relations in 1965,” Kumar said.

India’s economic ties with Malta have grown stronger with annual bilateral trade reaching around $350 million last financial year.

“A new beginning has been made in recent years on the culture front, with an Indian film being shot in Malta and courses on Sanskrit grammar being held at University of Malta,” the External Affairs Ministry statement said.

During the course of his visit, the Maltese Foreign Affairs and Trade Promotion Minister participated in the fourth edition of the India-Europe 29 Business Forum (IE29BF) here on Monday.

The Forum was created for the first time in 2014 by the External Affairs Ministry and industry body Federation of Indian Chambers and Commerce (FICCI) to provide an institutionalised platform for promoting business exchanges between India and the 29 countries of the Central Europe region.

The theme of IE29BF 2018 was “Synergising Economic Vision for Expanded Relations”.

The focus sectors for the Forum were “Industry 4.0: Defining India-Europe 29 Cooperation through Developing Innovation Eco-system in Hi-Tech Manufacturing and Skilling & Transforming Human Capital in India”, “Promoting E-Governance through ICT and Inviting Europe 29 Expertise for Digitalisation of Healthcare Sector in India” and “Collaborating to Develop 100 Smart Cities in India: Innovative urban Transport Solutions and Clean Technologies to Define India-Europe 29 Future Partnership”.

This year, the Czech Republic was the focus country of the Forum. Eighteen other European countries participated in the event. It was attended by 180 business delegates and officials from European countries and 200 business delegates from India. (IANS)