New Delhi, May 17: Serious threats posed by terrorism and piracy will be high on the agenda of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh during talks with African leaders on his six-day visit to Ethiopia and Tanzania next week. Singh, who leaves on May 23 for Addid Ababa, the seat of the African Union (AU), will discuss the twin challenges during the Second Africa-India Forum Summit to be attended by 15 African countries.
Like India, Africa too feels the adverse impact of terrorism and piracy is a phenomenon that affects both Africa and India and the leaders will discuss “ways and means of reducing and eliminating it,” Vivek Katju, Secretary (West) in the External Affairs Ministry, told reporters here. New Delhi has voiced its serious concerns over the threats posed by Somali pirates since about 11 per cent of seafarers engaged by international shipping companies are Indian nationals, some of whom have been taken hostages. There have been over 200 attacks, including about 70 successful hijackings and ransoms believed to exceed 50 million dollars have been paid to the pirates for securing the release of hostages and ships.
Singh will co-chair the Summit with the President of Equatorial Guinea, Obiang Nguema Mbasogo in his current capacity as chairperson of the AU.
The leaders will discuss significant aspects of the India-Africa partnership with the objective of enhancing its and widening its ambit for mutual benefit, Katju said. The Summit is expected to come out with the Addis Ababa Declaration setting out the roadmap for further consolidating the strategic partnership between India and the African Union. An Africa-India Framework for Enhanced Cooperation will also be firmed up at the Summit.
Asked whether India has been following initiatives by China and Japan to get a foothold in Africa, Katju said, “our relationship stands with Africa stands on its own”. “India is not engaged in competition in Africa with any other country. We are friends and we will continue to be friends and brothers. We have a historical relationship,” he said.
The countries that have been asked to participate in the Summit are Algeria, Burundi, Chad, Egypt, Equatorial Guinea, Ethiopia, Kenya, Libya, Malawi, Namibia, Mauritania, Nigria, senegal, South Africa and Swaziland. On the margins of the Summit on May 24 and 25, the Prime Minister will meet a number of African leaders. The issue of UN reforms is also expected to figure during the parleys. The Prime Minister will be accompanied by his wife Gursharan Kaur and his delegation at the Summit will include External Affairs Minister S M Krishna, T K A Nair, Principal Secretary to the Prime Minister and National Security Adviser Shivshankar Menon.
The Summit will be preceded by the Foreign Ministers' meeting on May 23. Commerce and Industry Minister Anand Sharma will lead the Indian side to a special meeting of trade ministers that will be held on May 21.
Katju said the India-Africa historic relationship, which is rooted in the struggle against colonialism and apartheid, has evolved into a multifaceted engagement. “This comprehensive paradigm of coopertion is premised on Africa's own aspirations for developing regional and Pan-African institutions and development programmes,” he said. India's cooperation with African countries cover, among others, the fields of human resources and institutional capacity building and education, science and technology, agricultural productivity and food security besides development of health, infrastructure and information communication technologies.
The Prime Minister will release a commemorative stamp, a book titled ‘Two Billion Dreams:Celebrating India-Africa Friendship' and a special Summit edition of the journal Africa Quarterly.
He will later hold detailed discussions with his Ethiopian counterpart Meles Zenawi on a range of bilateral, regional and international issues.
During his visit to Ethiopia, the first ever by an Indian Prime Minister, Singh will also address the Ethiopian parliament.
Katju said India and Ethiopia enjoy a warm and cordial relationship covering a wide spectrum. In the last two decades, Indian ivnestments have been upwards of USD 4.5 billion in areas such as agriculture, floriculture, engineering, plastics manufacturing, cotton and textiles, pharmaceuticals, healthcare and ICT.
India has extended Lines of Credit of around USD 700 million for Ethiopia's development process. A large part of this is towards development of the sugar industry. The two sides are expected to sign a significant agreement relating to Avoidance of Double Taxation, he said. Singh will then embark on a three-day bilateral visit to Tanzania from May 26, the first Head of Government level visit from India since 1997.
He will have wide-ranging discussions with President Jakaya Kikwete, who is on his second term following the general elections in 2010, to take the bilateral relationship forward in a comprehensive manner.
India is the second largest investor in Tanzania with total cumulative investments of USD 1.3 billion (till 2009). The bilateral trade is over USD 1.1 billion in 2010. PTI