Indian, African officials meet to firm up summit agenda

April 4th, 2008 - 5:49 pm ICT by admin  

A file-photo of Manmohan Singh

New Delhi, April 4 (IANS) Top officials from 14 African countries, the African Union (AU) and India held talks here Friday to prepare an agenda for the forthcoming India-Africa Forum Summit April 8. Senior officials from India and from the African countries discussed a broad range of issues, including the intensification of economic ties, cooperation in energy security, food security, health security, the UN reforms and climate change, officials said.

They also discussed cooperation in multilateral trade negotiations and reform of the international financial architecture.

The senior officials’ meeting will end with a set of recommendations for consideration by foreign ministers of the two sides Monday.

External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee and foreign ministers of African countries will discuss and fine-tune proposals for discussion at the summit between Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and the African leaders April 8.

The historic summit will culminate in a declaration of political principles and an action plan to further cement economic and strategic partnership between India and Africa. It will take into account far-reaching changes that have taken place in the last one-and-a-half decades.

The summit will focus on deepening and diversifying the multi-faceted partnership between India and Africa and how the sides can help in each other’s resurgence.

“India intends to be a partner in Africa’s resurgence,” Manmohan Singh said in his address to the Nigerian National Assembly last year, setting the tone for the forthcoming summit.

Ahead of the summit, Nalin Surie, secretary (West) in the external affairs ministry, said India vigorously backed Africa’s place in an expanded UN Security Council and supported the continent’s resurgence on the world stage.

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.

Besides the current and future chair of the African Union Commission, the AU has chosen the 14 countries for the summit - Algeria, Libya, Egypt, Ethiopia, Uganda, Kenya, Tanzania, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Ghana, Senegal, Nigeria, Burkina Faso, Zambia and South Africa.

Economic ties between India and Africa are burgeoning 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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