India to help improve agriculture in central America

June 10th, 2008 - 10:36 pm ICT by IANS  

A file-photo of Manmohan Singh

New Delhi, June 10 (IANS) With the food crisis in Latin America worsening, India Tuesday agreed to set up a panel with eight central American countries to enhance collaboration in agriculture and thus boost its diplomatic and economic ties with the region. India signed pacts with Honduras, El Salvador and Nicaragua for the abolition of visa requirements for the holders of official and diplomatic passports, external affairs ministry spokesperson Navtej Sarna told reporters here.

India also signed memoranda of understanding with Honduras and Costa Rica on holding foreign office consultations.

The agreements were signed after External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee held talks with ministers from eight central American countries that included Costa Rica, Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, Panama and Belize.

They also called on Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and discussed a host of bilateral, regional and global issues.

Vice president and foreign minister of Panama Samuel Lewis Navarro and Nicaragua Foreign Minister Samuel Santos Lopez were among those who participated in the meeting.

“India and central American countries agreed to set up a joint technical group to discuss agricultural cooperation,” Sarna said. These countries expressed their admiration for India’s success in agriculture and food security, he said.

India also agreed to share expertise in agriculture, pharmaceuticals, small and medium industries and tourism with the central American countries.

Most of central American countries are supportive of India’s aspirations for a seat in an expanded UN Security Council. El Salvador, Honduras and Guatemala have already expressed support for India’s UN Security Council bid. “We certainly hope other countries will also do so,” Sarna said.

The UN reforms was among a clutch of issues discussed between Mukherjee and his counterparts from the Central American Integration System (SICA). Others included climate change, terrorism and non-proliferation.

El Salvador is the current president of the regional grouping.

Mukherjee also made a proposal for India to set up IT centres in Belize, Costa Rica and Dominican Republic. India has already helped establish IT centres in Panama, Guatemala, El Salvador and Nicaragua.

The two sides also decided to double their bilateral trade to over $1 billion over the next three years.

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