Ivory Coast confers top award on Anand Sharma

January 16th, 2009 - 3:13 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, Jan 16 (IANS) India’s diplomacy in West Africa received a much-needed boost as the two countries in the region expressed solidarity with India in the wake of the Mumbai carnage and Ivory Coast conferred its highest award upon Minister of State for External Affairs Anand Sharma. Sharma, who visited Sierra Leone and Ivory Coast Jan 12-15, discussed the entire gamut of issues with the leaders of these countries that included the UN reforms, expansion of the UN Security Council and reshaping of the global financial infrastructure.

The two countries expressed “vociferous condemnation of the Mumbai terror attack and the forces behind it and expression of solidarity with India in its combat against terror,” a statement by the external affairs ministry said here Friday.

The leaders of these countries appreciated “India’s leadership role, its economic strength, and above all, its willingness to share its expertise, technology and development experience” with African countries, the ministry said.

In a gesture that underlined special ties with India, Ivory Coast President Laurent Gbagbo conferred the Commander of the National Order of Merit, the country’s highest civilian award “in recognition of his distinct role in strengthening India’s relationship with Ivory Coast and the African continent.”

Sharma is in charge of Africa, among other regions, in the external affairs ministry. Sharma, who is also minister of state for information and broadcasting, has played a key role in the transformation of the India-Africa relations that was underscored at the first India-Africa summit held in New Delhi last year.

India’s diplomatic and economic engagement with West Africa has acquired a fresh momentum in the last few years with increased cooperation in a range of areas including agriculture, education, health, capacity building, infrastructure and IT.

An IT park, being set up in Ivory Coast with India’s assistance, and named after Mahatma Gandhi by the president of Ivory Coast, is set to emerge as a shining example of Indo-Ivorian cooperation.

India and Sierra Leone signed a joint technical and economic cooperation agreement during Sharma’s visit to that country.

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