India's Modi visits Greece, the first visit to the country by an Indian prime minister in 40 years

ATHENS, Greece (AP) — The prime ministers of India and Greece pledged to boost their countries’ trade, business and defense ties Friday during a visit to Athens by Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

Modi’s visit is the first to Greece by an Indian prime minister in 40 years since Indira Gandhi visited the country in September 1983.

Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis said the two countries enjoyed relations stretching back to antiquity.

“Based on these strong foundations of our long-term relations, we have the great joy of upgrading our cooperation now to a strategic relationship,” Mitsotakis said in a joint televised statement distributed by Greece’s state broadcaster.

Reporters were not permitted to attend, and no questions were taken.

Modi said the two decided to reinforce bilateral relations in the defense and security sectors, as well as in infrastructure, agriculture, education and technology.

“In the sector of defense and security, we agreed to reinforce our military ties and our defense industries,” Modi said, according to a Greek translation of his comments.

The two countries will also aim to double bilateral trade by 2030, Modi said. Commercial trade between India and Greece stood at 1.32 billion euros in 2022, Mitsotakis said in an article for the Times of India released by his office Friday.

Modi said the two countries signed an agreement Friday regarding agricultural production that will also allow for cooperation in research, animal rearing and animal products.

India and Greece also want to facilitate skilled migration, "so we decided that an agreement will be signed soon on mobility and migration,” Modi said.

The two also discussed “the great importance” of establishing direct flights between Greece and India, Mitsotakis said, noting “great opportunities” in the sectors of tourism as well as economic cooperation in the pharmaceutical and technology sectors.