Pranab heads to Brazil, South Africa

February 15th, 2008 - 9:55 pm ICT by admin  


New Delhi, Feb 15 (IANS) External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee travels on a week-long tour to Brazil and South Africa Saturday to invigorate India’s political and economic ties with the two IBSA countries. Mukherjee begins his three-day from Brasilia. He will hold talks with his Brazilian counterpart Celso Amorim on a wide range of bilateral and global issues, including intensification of economic ties and the UN reforms.He will also call on Brazilian President Lula da Silva.

Bilateral trade with Brazil has been steadily growing and crossed $3 billion last year. Some agreements are expected to be signed between the two countries, external affairs ministry spokesperson Navtej Sarna told reporters here Friday.

Sports diplomacy will also be on Mukherjee’s diplomatic menu as India is keen to attract top Brazilian football coaches to train Indian teams. India, on its part, is ready to train Brazilians in the art of playing cricket - a game that is finding new converts in soccer-crazy Brazil.

As India gets ready to host the third IBSA summit later this year, issues relating to the IBSA - a tri-nation forum that comprises India, Brazil and South Africa - will also be discussed.

Both India and Brazil, pioneers of the G4 initiative, support each other for a place in an expanded UN Security Council.

Mukherjee will also meet heads of missions of Latin American and Caribbean countries in Brazil.

After his visit to Brazil, Mukherjee will head for a two-day visit to Pretoria Feb 21. India and South Africa will hold the seventh meeting of their joint commission that covers a wide swathe of areas, including trade and investment, science and technology, defence and culture.

Besides meeting his South African counterpart Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma, he will also call on South African President Thabo Mbeki and the newly elected African National Congress president Jacob Zuma, who is set to succeed Mbeki.

India and South Africa will sign four agreements during Mukherjee’s visit. An agreement on visa-free travel by the holders of diplomatic and official passports will be signed.

Three other agreements in areas of customs, agriculture and science and technology will also be inked between the two countries.

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