PM back in business, braces for Africa diplomacy Wednesday

March 3rd, 2009 - 6:33 pm ICT by IANS  

Manmohan SinghNew Delhi, March 3 (IANS) More than a month after he underwent a coronary bypass surgery, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh is ready for his first official engagement as he braces to receive an African head of state at his residence Wednesday morning.
Manmohan Singh will hold talks with Benin’s President Bon Yayi at his 7 Race Course residence on a wide range of bilateral and global issues. The talks will be followed by the signing of some economic-related agreements, said official sources.

Benin is an ethnically diverse West African country that is opening up its economy to attract more foreign investment.

Manmohan Singh was hospitalized following complaints of chest pains Jan 24. He returned home after a coronary bypass surgery Feb 1. He is recovering fast and is getting better progressively, sources in the prime minister’s office told IANS.

He is expected to return to his routine official work in a week or so, the sources said. It’s not yet clear when the prime minister will be in a position to campaign for his party in the forthcoming elections.

The prime minister wanted to go to Hyderabad House for talks with Benin’s president, but because of a flu he contracted a few days ago, he decided to shift the venue to his residence, the sources said.

It also underlines the importance India attaches to developing its relations with Africa, the sources said.

When he was recovering, External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee stood in for him to hold talks with visiting foreign dignitaries and presented the budget of the country.

Benin’s president is the first head of state to visit India after Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev came to New Delhi Jan 23.

President Pratibha Patil, accompanied by Mukherjee, held delegation-level talks with the Kazakh president, which was followed by the signing of a uranium supply agreement. Nazarbayev was the guest of honour at India’s Republic Day parade.

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