India backs Africa’s UN aspirations, calls for stronger ties

April 2nd, 2008 - 6:00 pm ICT by admin  

A file-photo of Manmohan SinghNew Delhi, April 2 (IANS) Ahead of its historic summit with 14 African countries next week, India Wednesday vigorously backed Africa’s place in an expanded UN Security Council and supported the continent’s resurgence on the world stage. “Africa is determined to find its true place in the international community. We stand by Africa in this endeavour and intend to be a close partner in its resurgence,” Nalin Surie, Secretary (West) in the external affairs ministry, said at an international seminar on ‘Africa-India Partnership in the 21st century.’

Backing “a genuine and strategic partnership” between India and Africa, Mozambique’s ambassador to India Carlos Agostinho Do Rosario, Dean of the African Diplomatic Corps, called for greater cooperation between India and Africa in the area of UN reforms.

“India and Africa are keen to work together for better and greater representation in the UN organisations and other international organisations so as to have their voice in international decision-making,” Rosario said.

“India and Africa should work together to narrow the gap with a view to bringing their positions on the UN reforms, particularly the reform of the UN Security Council, much closer,” the envoy said.

The 53-nation African Union is crucial to the success of any plan to expand the UN Security Council. India is trying to reach an understanding with African leaders on presenting a common plan, along with other G4 countries including Japan, Germany and Brazil, for an expansion of the UN Security Council.

Three years ago, an attempt to harmonise G4 and AU proposals could not succeed due to differences over the proposed structure of a reformed Security Council.

The issue of the UN reforms will figure prominently in discussions between Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and leaders of 14 African countries, who will participate in the first India-Africa Forum Summit April 8.

A majority of African countries have expressed support for the inclusion of India, whom they see as a rising power, in an expanded UN Security Council.

Describing India and Africa as “natural partners,” Surie underlined that India and Africa “stand together” on critical issues such as the fight against terrorism, climate change, multilateral trade negotiations, UN reforms and the reform of the international financial institutions.

Spelling out a robust vision of the India-Africa partnership based on the “principles of equality, mutual respect and mutual benefit”, Surie said India’s effort has focussed on cooperating with African countries to help them in their socio-economic development.

The two-day seminar has been organized by the Indian Council of World Affairs in collaboration with African Studies Association of India and Research and Information System for Developing Societies (RIS).

Putting people-centred inclusive development at the heart of the evolving India-Africa relationship, Surie said the summit will allow the leaders of India and select African countries, chosen by the African Union, “to brainstorm and devise ways and means of taking the India-Africa partnership in the light of changed circumstances” in the both sides.

The summit will end with a declaration of political principles and an action plan aimed at taking the India-Africa partnership to new heights.

Calling for an enhanced economic engagement between India and African countries, he averred that the day is not far when the two sides can form joint ventures in producing food grains, pulses and oil seeds for export in addition to domestic use.

Economic ties between India and Africa are growing rapidly with bilateral trade estimated to be over $25 billion. The economic partnership spans diverse sectors, including agriculture, small and medium enterprises, health, education, infrastructure, information technology and communications, automobiles, manufacturing and development of railways.

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