After 45 years, Indian Prime Minister reaches Nigeria

November 14th, 2007 - 2:14 am ICT by admin  
Abuja, Oct 14 (ANI): Prime Minister Manmohan Singh today reached Abuja, capital of Nigeria, for a five-day visit to Nigeria and South Africa to take forward the bilateral relations with the two African countries.

Singh has become the first Indian Prime Minister to land here since Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru’s historic visit to the African nation in 1962.

He is scheduled to meet members of the Indian community residing in the African nation, later in the day.

In his pre-departure speech Singh said that as two developing countries with a similar historical experience, “we face common challenges of nation-building.”

“Our relationship is marked by a convergence of interests and reflects our mutual commitment to South-South Cooperation. A vibrant Indian community in Nigeria contributes to the socio-economic development of Nigeria,” he said.

Singh said that he was looking forward to the opportunity of addressing the Joint Session of the National Assembly of Nigeria.

“I regard this as a great honour to India. My journey to Nigeria signifies India’s desire to reinvigorate its ties not only with our friend and brother Nigeria, but also the continent of Africa. There is much that India and Africa have to do together for the betterment of our peoples,” he added.

During his two-day stay in Nigeria, Singh will hold extensive discussion with President Yar’Adua in capital Abuja on bilateral, regional and multilateral issues. He will also be addressing a joint session of the Nigerian Parliament.

With Nigeria being India’s largest trading partner in Africa, and one of the largest crude oil suppliers, the agenda for the talks will focus on enhanced energy cooperation, as various Indian projects (both public and private) in the crucial oil sector are at different stages there.

Several MoUs related to energy and defence cooperation are expected to be signed by the two countries.

Public sector major National Thermal Power Corporation (NTPC) is currently negotiating with the Nigerian government to explore new areas of energy cooperation in the country.

The bilateral trade between India and Nigeria accounted for 7.9 billion dollars in 2006-07.

India, which has long-standing military ties with Nigeria, has been involved in training of Nigerian defence personnel. The Indian Army has also set up military training institutions there.

Singh’s visit will be a delight for over 25 thousand Indian expatriates living there, who would be getting to witness the visit of Indian Prime Minister after more than four decades when the Primes Minister addresses the Indian community there. (ANI)

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