President Patil concludes 12-day Latin American visit

April 24th, 2008 - 11:29 am ICT by admin  

A file-photo of Pratibha Patil
By Liz Mathew
Santiago, April 24 (IANS) Indian President Pratibha Patil concluded her 12-day tour of Latin American countries during which she pitched for a deeper South-South cooperation in trade, initiated efforts for better connectivity and sought support for New Delhi’s candidacy to permanent membership in the UN Security Council. Patil, who embarked on her maiden foreign trip April 12, visited Brazil, Mexico and Chile and signed nine agreements with these countries on civil aviation, sports, science and technology, energy and for more cooperation on agriculture and allied sectors.

The 73-year-old Patil’s visit was marred by controversies in Brazil, where her address was heard by a nearly empty Senate, and in Mexico the president had to call off her joint address to parliament after Left legislators blocked the proceedings over an energy bill.

However, the officials accompanying the president said the visits were “extremely fruitful and satisfactory”.

Patil, the first woman president of India, met Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, Mexican President Felipe de Jesus Calderon Hinojosa and Chile’s President Michelle Bachelet during her visit.

Trade ties with the Latin American countries remained the main highlight of the presidential visit, which was accompanied by a business delegation for the first time.

India has signed air services pacts with Mexico and Chile during the president’s visit. Patil had pointed out that the poor connectivity had been an impediment in strengthening trade ties between India and Latin American countries.

In her meetings with the business delegations of India and other countries, Patil reminded them that the governments have initiated the facilitations and it was up to them to take the journey forward as they had the “acumen, desire, will and the skill” to do so.

In Brasilia, addressing the senators, president Patil favoured a closely coordinated approach by the G-4 countries to pursue the “rightful” goal of India’s permanent membership in the UNSC.

“I believe that our strategic partnership is founded on convergence of world views and shared vision of a new multi-polar world order. Our mutual interests provide a sound basis for a growing partnership which would serve the global quest to realise a peaceful, secure, prosperous, stable and equitable world order,” Patil said.

The G-4 countries - India, Brazil, Germany and Japan - have been making concerted efforts for permanent membership in an expanded Security Council.

India and Brazil signed an extradition treaty, an MoU for cooperation in agriculture and allied sectors, a pact in the area of civil defence and humanitarian assistance and another in the field of oil and natural gas.

During her visit, India and Chile signed four pacts aimed at increasing south-south cooperation. The pacts included an air services pact, an agreement on science and technology, an agreement on sports along with a pact on increasing cooperation between the two nations on Antarctica.

With Mexico, India signed an agreement on cooperation in the energy field besides the one on air connectivity.

In Chile, President Patil developed an extremely warm rapport with Bachelet, the first elected woman president in Latin America, who referred to Indian president as a “dear friend”.

Bachelet has said that her country can be a hub for Indian businesses in Latin America and extended support to the country’s bid for a permanent seat on the UN Security Council.

Patil will have an overnight stopover in Cape Town, South Africa before returning to New Delhi early Friday.

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