PM leaves for Ethiopia, Tanzania on six-day visit

Last Updated: Monday, May 23, 2011 - 11:52

New Delhi: Prime Minister Manmohan Singh
on Monday left on a six-day visit to Ethiopia and Tanzania during
which he will discuss ways to effectively combat the twin
threats of terrorism and piracy.

Singh, who will first head for Addis Ababa, the seat of
the African Union, for the Second Africa-India Forum Summit to
be attended by 15 African countries, is also expected to make
a strong pitch for UN reforms.

In his departure statement, Singh said that the
India-Africa partnership rests on three pillars of capacity
building and skill transfer, trade and infrastructure
development.

"It (India-Africa Forum) is designed to respond to the
needs and priorities of Africa and for India to learn from
Africa`s rich experience. It is based on equality, mutual
trust and a consultative and transparent approach. It is a
living embodiment of South-South cooperation," he said.

The Second Africa-India Forum Summit will be a landmark
event that will for the first time bring together a large
gathering of African leaders to meet with India on African
soil.

"Today, both Africa and India are on the move. Africa
is emerging as a new growth pole of the world, while India is
on a path of sustained and rapid economic development.
Relations between India and Africa are marked by strong
people-to-people interaction and a deep sense of solidarity
and goodwill.

"Both Africa and India have the advantage of a youthful
population, commitment to democracy, pluralism and spirit of
entrepreneurship. The large population of people of Indian
origin in all parts of Africa is a living testimony to our
historical links," the Prime Minister said.

These are compelling factors for a strong and purposeful
partnership between India and Africa that responds to the
realities of the 21st Century.

On Tanzania, he said India has excellent political and
economic relations with them, which date back to the days of
Julius Nyerere and the Nonaligned Movement.

"Our cooperation has expanded in recent years in diverse
sectors. We wish to enhance the substance of this partnership
in consonance with the developmental priorities of Tanzania. I
look forward to my discussions with President Jakaya Kikwete
to this end," he said.

Like India, Africa too feels the adverse impact of
terrorism and piracy is a phenomenon that affects both Africa
and India and the leaders will discuss "ways and means of
reducing and eliminating it," Vivek Katju, Secretary (West) in
the External Affairs Ministry, said ahead of the visit.

New Delhi has voiced its serious concerns over the
threats posed by Somali pirates since about 11 per cent of
seafarers engaged by international shipping companies are
Indian nationals, some of whom have been taken hostage.

Singh will co-chair the Summit with the President of
Equatorial Guinea, Obiang Nguema Mbasogo in his current
capacity as chairperson of the AU.

The leaders will discuss significant aspects of the
India-Africa partnership with the objective of enhancing and
widening its ambit for mutual benefit.

The Summit is expected to come out with the Addis
Ababa Declaration setting out the roadmap for further
consolidating the strategic partnership between India and the
African Union. An Africa-India Framework for Enhanced
Cooperation will also be firmed up at the Summit.

New Delhi`s push for getting a strong foothold in
Africa comes in the midst of major initiatives being taken by
China and Japan to make deep inroads there.

"Our relationship with Africa stands on its own", says
Katju going on to add, "India is not engaged in competition
in Africa with any other country. We are friends and we will
continue to be friends and brothers. We have a historical
relationship."

On UN reforms, India and all the countries of the
African Union share the view that there is such a need
including expansion in permanent and non-permanent membership
in the UN Security Council.

India wants Africa to get a permanent seat in the
Security Council. African countries too have supported India
for a permanent membership in the UNSC.

The countries that have been asked to participate in
the Summit are Algeria, Burundi, Chad, Egypt, Equatorial
Guinea, Ethiopia, Kenya, Libya, Malawi, Namibia, Mauritania,
Nigeria, Senegal, South Africa and Swaziland.

On a mission to reach out to the African countries,
the Prime Minister is expected to make a number of
announcements like setting up of four regional centres of
excellence, vocational training centres in African countries,
skill training and an additional Line of Credit.

Singh will have meetings with a number of African
leaders on the margins of the Summit on May 24 and 25.

The Prime Minister will be accompanied by his wife
Gursharan Kaur and his delegation at the Summit will include
External Affairs Minister S M Krishna, T K A Nair, Principal
Secretary to the Prime Minister, and National Security Adviser
Shivshankar Menon.

The Summit will be preceded by the Foreign Ministers`
meeting tomorrow.

The India-Africa historic relationship, which is
rooted in the struggle against colonialism and apartheid, has
evolved into a multifaceted engagement.

"This comprehensive paradigm of cooperation is
premised on Africa`s own aspirations for developing regional
and Pan-African institutions and development programmes," says
Katju.

PTI



First Published: Monday, May 23, 2011 - 11:52

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