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African countries seek India’s cooperation in defence, agri


New Delhi: From assistance in defence to mining to agriculture, African countries have sought India’s cooperation in a variety of sectors as part of expansion of engagement between two sides.

External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj held bilateral talks with her counterparts from nine countries and Industry Minister of Cote d’Ivoire yesterday during which possible areas for India’s assistance were discussed.

A number of countries including Angola sought India’s help in the telecom and energy sectors while many others favoured deepening of cooperation in agriculture, healthcare and infrastructure development. Swaraj assured them all possible assistance.

The ministers were here to participate in the third India Africa Forum Summit.

Swaraj thanked Foreign Minister of Eritrea Osman Saleh Mohammed for helping India in evacuation of Indians from Yemen earlier this year. Currently there are 1,200 Indian teachers in Eritrea and Mohammed sought more teachers from India.

In his meeting with Swaraj, Foreign Minister of Lesotho Tlohang Sekhamane favoured extension of the defence training programme by India, besides assistance in capacity building and healthcare, official sources said.

Foreign Minister of Gambia Neneh MacDouall Gaye assured Swaraj that her country will stand by India in the UN and will support its candidature for membership of UN Security Council.

Minister of Foreign Minister of Benin, Saliou Akadiri referred to India being the biggest trading partner of his country and pitched for expansion of ties in the fields of power, agriculture and health. He also sought India’s help in setting up of a cyber city in Benin.

Somalian Foreign Minister Abdusalam Hadliyeh Omer, in the meeting with his Indian counterpart, favoured deeper defence ties, particularly in the maritime security. He also favoured India’s investment in that country’s oil and gas sector.

Madagascar Foreign Minister Beatrice Jeanine Atallah conveyed to Swaraj that 85 per cent of its land is arable and India can help the country in a big way in developing its agriculture sector. He also sought USD 2.5 million for the agri sector.

Swaraj also held talks with Burundian Foreign Minister Alain Aime Nyamitwe and her counterpart from Equatorial Guinea Agapito Mokuy during which possible areas of cooperation figured.

Nyamitwe said his country fully support India’s candidature for a permanent seat in the UN Security Council.

Mokuy said India can help the country in oil exploration and mining sector.

Swaraj had held bilateral talks with her counterparts and senior leaders from around 20 countries on October 28 and 29 also.


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