SPEECH BY THE PRESIDENT OF INDIA, SMT. PRATIBHA DEVISINGH PATIL AT THE BANQUET IN HONOUR OF THE PRESIDENT OF THE ARGENTINE REPUBLIC H.E. DR. CRISTINA FERNANDEZ DE KIRCHNER
New Delhi, 14th October 2009
Your Excellency President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
We are privileged to have in our midst the President of the Argentine Republic, a country with which we have had traditionally warm and friendly relations. It is a country that Nobel Laureate Rabindranath Tagore visited in 1924-25 and which inspired him to write a number of poems which were published in his work "Purabi".
We are particularly pleased, Excellency, that you have chosen India for your first visit to Asia since you assumed the Presidency of your great country in December, 2007.
We have watched with admiration, your untiring efforts and that of your distinguished predecessor, President Nestor Kirchner, in the service of your people and the success you achieved in taking your great country forward. Argentina's achievements in agriculture and allied fields, in industry, in science and technology have been remarkable.
Your visit is taking place at a time when we also mark the 60th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between our two countries. It is an appropriate moment in our relations, therefore, to chart a new and substantive partnership between our two countries. I am confident that following your visit, our cooperation in trade, industry, investment, culture, agriculture, hydrocarbons, science & technology, and outer space will be strengthened. We are happy that our two sides have agreed to set a trade target of US$ 3 billion to be achieved by 2012. It is our hope that the current international economic and financial crisis notwithstanding, we would, in fact, be able to exceed this target over the next three years.
For the effective development of our bilateral relations it is equally important that we enhance cultural, youth and parliamentary exchanges. Our film industries can collaborate more effectively and sporting exchanges enhanced. Argentine skills in football and polo are acknowledged all over the world. Your sports persons, especially in football, have large fan followings in India. I understand that India's ancient and rejuvenating practice of Yoga and Ayurveda has a good following among your people. Both countries could greatly benefit by intensifying cooperation in these spheres.
India and Argentina have a tradition of cooperation in international organizations - in the United Nations, WTO and the G-20. In the context of the current international financial and economic crisis, it is particularly necessary for us to ensure that the development prospects of developing countries are not adversely affected. It is also crucial that developing countries have an effective say in decision-making processes so that their developmental imperatives find strong support.
Terrorism is an international scourge. India has been a victim of terrorism for over two decades. The vibrant city of Mumbai was subjected to violent terrorist attacks last year which were masterminded from outside. We appreciate Argentina's condemnation of the Mumbai terrorist attacks and the expression of solidarity with India. Our Mission in Kabul has been attacked twice. The second attack occurred only a few days ago. Such terrorist incidents are now being indiscriminately perpetrated all over the world. The world community must work collectively to resolutely defeat the forces of terrorism and we look forward to jointly working with Argentina in combating international terrorism.
We are two democracies with shared values and principles. We have similar approaches to many global issues and are committed to the socio-economic development of our people and to social justice. We have clear commonalities and complementarities in our economic systems and a commitment to convert these into concrete cooperative activities. We must not lose any more time in grasping opportunities and strengthening our partnership.
Before I conclude, I would like to share with you the lines written by Rabindranath Tagore during his stay in Buenos Aires in the early 20th Century in his poem 'Bideshi Phul' or 'Alien Flower'.
"O alien flower, when I asked,
What may be your name,
You smiled and nodded, and I realized
In a name what was there.
In nothing else
But in your smile is all that we have need
To know you."
Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen,
I would now invite you to join me in a toast to:
- the health and well-being of President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner;
- the prosperity and well-being of the friendly people of Argentina; and
- a strong and long-term partnership between India and Argentina.