South African leader meets PM, high on economic ties

June 9th, 2008 - 11:20 pm ICT by IANS  

A file-photo of Manmohan Singh

New Delhi, June 9 (IANS) South Africa’s ruling African National Congress party chief Jacob Zuma Monday met Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and discussed intensification of political and economic ties between the two countries. Zuma, who is likely to succeed President Thabo Mbeki as head of state in national elections next year, also met Congress president Sonia Gandhi and discussed cementing of ties between these two of the oldest political parties in the world.

The ANC leader and Sonia Gandhi, also chairperson of the ruling United Progressive Alliance (UPA), will sign a memorandum of understanding for closer interactions between the two ruling parties during Zuma’s three-day visit.

Zuma arrived here Sunday on his first to India after he won the race for the leadership of the ruling ANC in December.

The 66-year-old Zuma, a populist leader and a veteran freedom fighter, addressed India’s business leaders here in the evening and underlined the need for cementing business partnership between the two countries.

“We have identified the need to work closely with India bilaterally and within the framework of South-South cooperation,” he said.

Lauding the presence of Indian companies in South Africa like the Tata Group, Zuma asked Indian businessmen to further scale up investment in that country and underlined the attractive business-friendly climate in Africa’s richest country.

“Already Indian companies are making a mark in South Africa. South Africa is embarking on a massive programme of technology-oriented education and is moving into e-governance,” he said while calling upon Indian IT companies to step up their investment in that country.

Underlining historic ties between India and South Africa, Minister of State for External Affairs Anand Sharma spoke about India’s efforts to enhance capacity building and human resource development in the African continent.

Sharma also expressed confidence that India and South Africa will surpass $10 billion bilateral trade much before 2010 and said it could go up to $15 billion in two years.

The South African leader is also expected to address top business leaders in Mumbai before flying off to Beijing for talks with Chinese President Hu Jintao.

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