PM embarks on five-day visit to Nigeria, South Africa

November 14th, 2007 - 2:13 am ICT by admin  
New Delhi, Oct 14 (ANI): Prime Minister Manmohan Singh today embarked on a five-day visit to Nigeria and South Africa to take forward the bilateral relations with the two African countries.

Singh will first visit to Nigeria, at the invitation of President Alhaji UmaruYar Adua, becoming the first Indian Prime Minister to land there since Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru’s historic visit to the African nation in 1962.

Stating that India’s relations with Nigeria were historic and broad-ranging in nature, Singh said in his pre-departure speech 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.

In South Africa, Singh will attend the second India-Brazil-South Africa (IBSA) Summit at Pretoria October 17. The summit is expected to focus on identifying ways to strengthen and deepen the south cooperation, apart from issues like Climate change, reform in the United Nations, WTO negotiations, Cooperation in the civil Nuclear energy and international terrorism.

Singh said that the IBSA process has matured over time, symbolising the coming together of like-minded countries of Asia, Africa and Latin America “for the good of humankind.”

Pointing out that the Summit has a rich agenda, he said: “Along with the leaders of Brazil and South Africa, I hope to review the substantial progress that has been made in expanding our trilateral cooperation, which now covers a wide range of activities. I expect the Summit to lead to concrete outcomes on both global and trilateral issues.”

Singh is scheduled to have bilateral meetings with the South African and the Brazalin Presidents during the summit. Agreements on human resources, culture, social development, health and medicines and higher education will also be signed.

Minister of State for External Affairs Anand Sharma is accompanying the Prime Minister. (ANI)

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