As China-built AU centre opens, India focuses on quiet Africa diplomacy (With images)

January 30th, 2012 - 6:19 pm ICT by IANS  

Manmohan Singh Addis Ababa/New Delhi, Jan 30 (IANS) As the glitzy China-built African Union building opened in the Ethiopian capital, India was quietly engaged in intense consultations with delegations from around 25 African countries, including foreign office talks with Ethiopia, to fast-track implementation of key projects agreed at the second India-Africa summit.

M. Ganapathy, secretary (west) in India’s external affairs ministry and Gurjit Singh, additional secretary (East and South Africa), led the Indian delegation in talks with officials from various African countries.

The focus was on fast-tracking implementation of lines of credit (LoCs) and grants worth $5.7 billion for a slew of development projects and over 80 training institutes Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had announced at the second India-Africa Forum Summit held in Addis Ababa.

Several officials from African countries commended India’s development-centric diplomacy in the African continent that focuses on capacity building and human resource development, informed sources said.

China has spent $200 million in building the new African Union headquarters in Addis Ababa, a symbol of Beijing’s growing profile in the resource-rich African continent. The new AU building, now the tallest in Addis Ababa, was formally inaugurated over the weekend at a colourful ceremony in the presence of several African leaders.

Although China’s $120 billion bilateral trade with Africa is more than double of that of India’s, New Delhi’s soft power diplomacy, reflected in over 100 training institutes it plans to set up across the continent, has generous enormous goodwill.

In the Ethiopian capital, the seat of the African Union (AU) headquarters, Indian officials also held second India-Ethiopia Foreign Office Consultations Jan 24. This was the first bilateral meeting after Manmohan Singh’s visit to Addis Ababa in May last year and his wide-ranging talks with his Ethiopian counterpart Meles Zenawi.

The Indian delegation was led by Gurjit Singh, also a former ambassador to Ethiopia, and the Ethiopian delegation by Arega Hailu, Director General of the Asia and Oceania Affairs, Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Both side also agreed to infuse the close political relationship with greater economic content, said the Indian embassy in Ethiopia.

At the meeting, Singh underlined that the India-Ethiopia relationship is “exemplary” and is based on “common commitment to economic development and cooperation.”

Hailu, on his part, expressed his gratitude over the bilateral relationship that has flourished over the last few years and expressed thanks to New Delhi for providing Lines of Credit of more than $700 million for sugar development& rural electrification. He also commended India’s contribution for capacity building & human resources development by offering various scholarships.

“Cooperation under the India Africa Forum Summit and LoCs offered by the India for sugar project and Ethiopia-Djibouti railway line were also discussed,” said the Indian embassy in Ethiopia.

During the discussions, both sides also discussed implementation of decisions taken under the two India- Africa summits, including the establishment of four capacity building institutions in Ethiopia at bilateral and regional levels which include Vocational training Centre, IT Centre, Women Solar Engineering Vocational training centre, Farm Science Centre.

The multifaceted ties between India and Ethiopia has shown a remarkable upswing in the last few years with tangible progress in various fields including political cooperation, infrastructure development, agriculture, people to people contact, capacity building and human resource development.

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