India, South Africa sign three agreements

February 22nd, 2008 - 9:24 pm ICT by admin  

(Lead)
By Fakir Hassen
Pretoria, Feb 22 (IANS) Indian External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee and his South African counterpart Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma inked three agreements here Friday at the end of a two-day joint commission meeting. Mukherjee headed the Indian delegation for the Seventh Joint Ministerial Commission Meeting between the two countries.

Agreements signed during the visit were on visa-free entry for diplomatic and official passport holders that will go into effect in 90 days’ time; cooperation in customs matters, and in science and technology.

“I am delighted to visit South Africa to renew the special bond of friendship that exists between us, especially more so because of the significant and increased interaction between India and South Africa that has seen trade soar to $5 billion,” Mukherjee told IANS after the meeting.

“We discussed in depth ways and means to further promote business exchanges between India and South Africa, especially through the early finalisation of a bilateral investor protection agreement; the Southern African Customs Union and the Preferential Trade Agreement.”

The ministers also discussed the role of India and South Africa in the global arena.

“We agreed on the vital importance of UN reforms and the expansion in particular of the UN Security Council in both permanent and non-permanent categories,” Mukherjee said.

“Our discussion also covered our close cooperation in the World Trade Organisation, Non-Aligned Movement, Commonwealth and the G8 Outreach.”

Mukherjee added that there was an exchange of views on climate change, international terrorism and the regional situations in Africa and Asia.

“Together we are determined to ensure a bright future for India and South Africa,” Mukherjee said.

“We are looking forward to welcoming President Thabo Mbeki in India twice this year - first for the India-Africa Forum Public Summit in April and then for the IBSA (India-Brazil-South Africa) Summit in the fourth quarter,” he said.

Mukherjee also called on President Mbeki, Vice-President Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka and the recently-elected African National Congress president Jacob Zuma.

The joint commission between the two countries was set up in 1994 and its last meeting was held in New Delhi in December 2005. The commission has seven sub-committees that cover various aspects of bilateral relations.

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