PM to go on Africa tour Monday, terms summit a ‘landmark’ event (Lead)

May 23rd, 2011 - 12:12 am ICT by IANS  

Manmohan Singh New Delhi/Addis Ababa, May 22 (IANS) A day before he goes on a two-nation Africa tour to Ethiopia and Tanzania, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh Sunday underlined that the second summit in Addis Ababa will be a “landmark event” which will help expand a “strong and purposeful partnership between India and Africa” in tune with “the realities of the 21st century.”

Manmohan Singh leaves for Addis Ababa, the seat of the African Union and the diplomatic capital of Africa, Monday morning.

He will co-chair the two-day India-Africa Forum summit starting Tuesday with Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo, chairman of the African Union and president of Equatorial Guinea.

“The second Africa-India Forum Summit will be a landmark event that will for the first time bring together a large gathering of African leaders to meet with India on African soil,” said Manmohan Singh while alluding to the theme of the summit, “Enhancing Partnership: Shared Vision”.

Leaders from 15 African countries, chosen by the AU under a participatory formula worked out between India and the AU in the Gambian capital Banjul in the summer of 2006, will represent Africa at the summit.

The two sides will seek to fashion a robust strategic partnership that will entail expansion of trade and investment on the one hand and closer coordination over a range of global issues including terrorism, piracy, climate change and the UN reforms.

In his departure statement hours before leaving for India’s second summit with the African continent, Manmohan Singh underlined that the burgeoning partnership rested on “three pillars of capacity building and skill transfer, trade and infrastructure development”.

“It is designed to respond to the needs and priorities of Africa and for India to learn from Africa’s rich experience. It is based on equality, mutual trust and a consultative and transparent approach,” said Manmohan Singh. He described the India-Africa partnership as “a living embodiment of South-South cooperation.”

Taking note of winds of resurgence sweeping India and the African continent, he underscored that “both Africa and India are on the move.”

“Africa is emerging as a new growth pole of the world, while India is on a path of sustained and rapid economic development.”

Against the backdrop of pro-democracy protests sweeping North Africa and more countries in sub-Saharan Africa embracing democracy, Manmohan Singh underscored the commitment of both sides to democracy and pluralism.

“Both Africa and India have the advantage of a youthful population, commitment to democracy, pluralism and spirit of entrepreneurship,” he said, adding that bilateral ties “are marked by strong people-to-people interaction and a deep sense of solidarity and goodwill.”

“These are compelling factors for a strong and purposeful partnership between India and Africa that responds to the realities of the 21st Century,” he stressed.

The African countries participating in the summit are: Algeria, Burundi, Chad, Egypt, Equatorial Guinea, Ethiopia, Kenya, Libya, Malawi, Namibia, Mauritania, Nigeria, Senegal, South Africa and Swaziland. Jean Ping, the chairperson of the African Union Commission, will also take part in the summit.

The summit will culminate in the Addis Ababa Declaration and the Africa-India Framework for Enhanced Cooperation which will map out an ambitious blueprint of the India-Africa engagement for the next few years. India hosted the first forum summit in April 2008.

At the summit, Manmohan Singh is expected to announce fresh lines of credit worth $500 million for a host of infrastructure projects and increase the number of scholarships for African students under the Indian government’s flagship Indian Technical and Economic Cooperation (ITEC) programme.

The action plan that was launched by India and Africa in March 2010 will be fleshed out further at the summit gathering of Indian and African leaders. The action plan includes India setting up 19 training institutions in African countries.

In the first ever visit by an Indian prime minister to Ethiopia, Manmohan Singh will also hold bilateral talks with his Ethiopian counterpart Meles Zenawi.

In a special gesture underlining close ties, Manmohan Singh will address a joint session of the Ethiopian parliament Thursday before leaving for Tanzania.

In Dar es Salaam, Manmohan Singh will hold wide-ranging talks with Tanzanian President Jakaya Kikwete. “We wish to enhance the substance of this partnership in consonance with the developmental priorities of Tanzania,” the prime minister said in his departure statement.

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