New Delhi: Hamid Ansari today left on a five-day visit to Nigeria and Mali, where he will hold bilateral talks with the leadership of the two West African nations besides participating in a number of events.
His visit to Nigeria is at the invitation of his counterpart Yemi Osinbajo.
From Nigeria, Ansari will go to Mali on September 29, the first ever high-level visit to that country from India.
The vice president is accompanied by his wife Salma Ansari, Minister of State for Finance Arjun Ram Meghwal and MPs Bhubaneshwar Kalita, Dilip Kumar Tirkey and Mohammad Salim.
In Abuja, Ansari will hold talks with Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari, Osinbajo, president of the Senate, speaker of the House of Representatives and deliver an address at the National Defence College of Nigeria.
He will also meet the governor of Lagos and deliver an address to the joint business forum at the University of Lagos.
The vice president will inaugurate the High Commission of India Chancery complex at Abuja and interact with members of the Indian community both in Abuja and Lagos.
"The vice president's visit (to Nigeria) intends to further strengthen the strategic partnership between the two countries, expand and diversify bilateral economic engagement and explore new avenues of partnerships on a wide range of issues of shared common interest," External Affairs Ministry spokesperson Vikas Swarup said.
In Mali, Ansari will meet the president, the prime minister and also address the National Assembly.
The visit to Mali is aimed at boosting the relationship between the two countries and explore new areas of cooperation to expand and diversify bilateral relationship.