President Patil begins three-nation tour

April 12th, 2008 - 12:13 pm ICT by admin  

A file-photo of Pratibha Patil

New Delhi, April 12 (IANS) President Pratibha Patil Saturday left on her maiden foreign tour that will take her to Brazil, Mexico and Chile as India seeks to strengthen its diplomatic and business ties with Latin America. The president’s visit to Brazil assumes significance as India has entered into a strategic partnership with it. The two countries, which are among the outreach countries that are associated with the G-8, are also working together in IBSA, a trilateral developmental initiative between India, Brazil and South Africa.

Patil will meet Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, Mexican President Felipe de Jesus Calderon Hinojosa and Chile’s President Michelle Bachelet during her 12-day visit.

Pointing out that the trade and economic interaction between the Latin Amercian countries and India is growing rapidly despite the impediments in the physical connectivity, Nalin Surie, secretary (West) of the ministry of external affairs, said a number of agreements are expected to be signed during the visit.

The Indian cabinet Friday approved the signing of Air Services Agreements (ASA) with Chile and Mexico. According to the agreements, both countries will have the right to designate as many airlines as wish to fly to India, and vice versa.

“India also has a preferential trade arrangement with Chile and our trade and economic relations are growing rapidly,” Surie told reporters Friday.

“The president’s visit to Latin America will cover three of our important partners in the region. All three are flourishing democracies, developing countries and countries with which our interaction is growing rapidly,” said Surie.

Patil, the first woman president of India, begins her official visit to Brazil from Sao Paulo, where she arrives Tuesday. She will also visit Rio de Janeiro and Brasilia.

The president will spend four days in Mexico, during which she will visit Mexico City and Guadalajara province.

The president, who arrives in Santiago April 20 on a two-day visit, is scheduled to address the students and academicians at the University of Chile.

Patil will have a stopover in Lisbon on her way to Brazil and halt in Cape Town while returning to India April 23.

Non-Conventional Energy Minister Vilasrao Muttemwar is accompanying President Patil on her tour.

Surie pointed out that India’s trade and economic ties with the three countries were growing rapidly despite impediments in accessibility. Currently, India’s trade with Brazil stands at $3.2 billion, with Mexico it is $2 billion and with Chile $2.4 billion.

New Delhi has a trade target of $10 billion with Brazil by 2010 and of $5 billion with Mexico.

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