When two presidents meet, and bond as women

April 22nd, 2008 - 1:44 pm ICT by admin  

A file-photo of Pratibha Patil
By Liz Mathew
Santiago, April 22 (IANS) It was diplomacy at the highest level, from one woman to another. When India’s first woman president Pratibha Patil met her Chilean counterpart Michelle Bachelet, the chemistry was instant - and the cheer was evident to all. They talked animatedly, laughed and embraced warmly, signalling a bonding between two women who have reached the pinnacle of their careers.

“I met a warm person and a close friend,” Patil is said to have remarked when asked about Bachelet, a 56-year-old single mother, a qualified surgeon, paediatrician and epidemiologist who has also studied military strategy.

The two leaders, one dressed in a purple business suit and the other in a traditional white sari with a black border with her head covered, met at the presidential palace La Moneda here Monday.

The body language was warm; while the agreements were being signed the two women heads were seen constantly talking to each other.

Bachelet, who speaks Spanish, English, German, Portuguese and French, is the daughter of an air force officer who was detained under charges of treason during Augusto Pinochet’s rule.

Patil has invited Bachelet to India. Bachelet has agreed to make the visit.

“A special human touch was visible. It was the most striking feature during the meeting,” said Christie Fernandes, secretary to the president.

Gender was on the agenda.

According to Nalin Surie, secretary (west), ministry of external affairs, both leaders spoke at length about women’s empowerment, financial self-reliance and concern for the girl child.

“The Chilean president said at least one third of families in her country were headed by women,” Surie told reporters, adding that the leaders agreed that the contribution of both men and women was essential.

“Our president has drawn the analogy of a chariot having two wheels,” Surie said, adding that he was “extremely satisfied and pleased at the outcome of the discussions”.

Patil, who is at the third leg of her 12-day visit to Latin America, gifted a DVD on Ayurveda to the Chilean president. She gifted the same DVDs to her counterparts in Brazil and Mexico.

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