India, Nigeria agree to turn their bilateral ties into a strategic partnership

November 14th, 2007 - 2:18 am ICT by admin  
Abuja, Oct 15 (ANI): India and Nigeria today agreed to enhance their bilateral ties to a strategic partnership and signed four bilateral agreements ranging from defence cooperation to cooperation between foreign service institutes of both countries.

Launching the Strategic Partnership in the fiftieth year of establishing of diplomatic relations, both countries agreed to enhance cooperation in energy sector, defence and against international terrorism.

Both sides, led by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Nigerian President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua, agreed to sign nine more agreements in next six months that would include, a double taxation avoidance agreement, mutual legal assistance treaty, extradition treaty, trade agreement and bilateral investment protection and promotion agreement amongst others.

A bilateral civil aviation agreement is also likely to be inked within six months that would enhance air connectivity between the two countries. Efforts to improve maritime connectivity have also been initiated.

Both the leaders reiterated the importance of ensuring socially inclusive economic growth in their countries and agreed that exchange of experiences and programmes between the two countries with respect to poverty alleviation would be of great benefit to each other and to other countries in Africa.

With Nigeria being India’s largest trading partner in Africa and the potential for substantially enhancing trade and investment between the two countries being largely untapped, both sides today agreed to significantly enhance mutually beneficial trade in sectors like infrastructure (including railways), agriculture, food processing, small and medium enterprises, power generation, fertilizers, ICT, pharmaceuticals, automobiles, auto-components and others.

The fifth meeting of the Joint Commission is expected to be held within the next few months to draw up a detailed roadmap for enhancing the broad cooperation in these sectors.

India and Nigeria also reiterated that they would continue to encourage further cooperation between their companies in the oil and gas sectors of both countries.

Both sides agreed to further strengthen such cooperation and expand its ambit.

In this context, India agreed to establish two IT laboratories in the defence academies of Nigeria. Both sides also agreed to enhance cooperation in respect of UN peacekeeping operations in which their countries have traditionally played and continue to play an important role.

On the issue of UN reform, both countries stressed the need to promote democratisation of international body by increasing the participation of developing countries in their decision-making bodies.

India and Nigeria reaffirmed their understanding that no reform of the United Nations would be complete without reform of the UN Security Council. Abuja also reaffirmed its support for New Delhi’s permanent membership on an expanded UN Security Council.

India said that it would respect Africa’s consensus with respect to new permanent membership from Africa.

Both sides, which are members of G-20 and G-33 groups, also reiterated the urgent need to successfully complete the Doha Round in order to promote the interests of the developing countries in keeping with the Doha mandate.

Both sides agreed to strengthen cooperation in culture, education, health, Science and Technology and Information Communication and Technology sectors. Exchanges among Parliamentarians, youth and civil society would also be further encouraged and developed.

On the issue of Climate Change, both sides reiterated the importance of the issue and agreed that the solution to the problem of climate change, which is essentially the outcome of the unsustainable production and consumption patterns in the developed world, cannot lie in the perpetuation of poverty in developing countries.

“Developing countries cannot accept approaches that impede growth and retard poverty alleviation obligations. They agreed that both sides would cooperate closely, along with other developing countries, at the UNFCCC and also within the framework of the Kyoto Protocol,” the joint declaration stated.

The Nigerian side expressed its appreciation for India’s consistent and longstanding support to Africa and to African causes and conveyed its happiness at India’s intention to host an India-Africa Forum Summit in India in April 2008.

“Nigeria would be happy to participate in that Summit which is intended to focus on finding ways and means by which India could further enhance its support to the countries of Africa to meet their socio-economic developmental objectives,” the Abuja Declaration stated.

Manmohan Singh invited President Yar’Adua to pay a State visit to India at a mutually convenient date, which was accepted by the latter.

The four agreements signed between the two countries today are: MoU between Foreign Service Institute and the Nigerian Foreign Service Academy, MoU between Indian Council for World Affairs (ICWA) and Nigerian Institute of International Affairs, Protocol for Foreign Office Consultations, MoU on Defence Cooperation. (ANI)

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