SPEECH BY THE PRESIDENT OF INDIA, SMT. PRATIBHA DEVISINGH PATIL AT THE BANQUET HOSTED BY THE PRESIDENT OF THE CHILE, H.E. MS. MICHELLE BACHELET
Santiago, Chile, 21st April 2008
Your Excellency President Michelle Bachelet,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
My delegation and I have been overwhelmed by the warm hospitality extended to us by the Government and people of Chile since our arrival. I thank you for your invitation to visit your beautiful country.
We have great admiration for Chile, a country with a rich heritage. As a Spanish speaking country in the southern most corner of the world, Chile has influenced and inspired the handicraft, art, literature and painting of Latin America. Nobel Laureates Gabriela Mistral and Pablo Neruda are well recognized and admired in India.
India and Chile share a common commitment to democratic governance, the rule of law, respect for human rights and inclusive development. We stress tolerance and respect for diversity in the social fabric.
Contacts between India and Chile go back to 1931 at a time when we in India were still under colonial domination. Relations between our two countries have developed particularly well in recent years but the time has come for us to give them fresh substance and depth. There are synergies and complementarities waiting to be exploited. Our bilateral cooperation in agriculture, trade, investment, small and medium industries, culture and education must be significantly stepped up. We must also open up other new areas of cooperation.
Our bilateral trade has increased dramatically in the past four years exceeding the US$ 2 billion mark from a modest start at US$ 200 million in 2003. India is among the top ten exporters of pharmaceutical product to Chile while for Chile, India is among its top export destinations. There has been useful investment in Chile by Indian companies in the fields of banking software development, financial and software services, automobiles and pharmaceuticals. Both these trends need to be further strengthened.
Over the last 15 years, both Chile and India have seen a series of transformational changes. These have had the effect of bringing us closer together. It is necessary for functioning democracies to interact very frequently and closely. It is necessary for countries with similar world vision to exchange views more often. The State Visit of your predecessor, President Ricardo Lagos Escobar to India in January 2005 restored the process of high level exchanges between our two countries. My visit is intended to continue that process. Our effort must be to make such exchanges more frequent.
India attaches importance to its relations with Chile. We are both making efforts to overcome the divide of distance between us. We have had success in this effort. The agreement on Civil Aviation Services, which was signed today, will allow us to enhance connectivity between us. Our cooperation in Science & Technology and on the Antarctica is equally significant to strengthening our relations.
Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen,
India and Chile have common positions on the major issues before the international community today. Both our countries condemn terrorism for which we have zero tolerance. We are determined to work together on the ongoing multilateral trade negotiations and on climate change with a view to ensure that the vital interests of developing countries are protected and no barriers are placed before their developmental requirements. Similarly, we agree on the need for United Nations reform, especially reform of the UN Security Council. We greatly value Chile's support for India's permanent membership on an expanded UN Security Council.
I am convinced that my visit to this beautiful country will help consolidate and progress our rapidly developing partnership across various sectors.
Excellency, Ladies and Gentlemen, May I now request you to join me in a toast to: -
- the good health and prosperity of Her Excellency, President Michelle Bachelet of Chile
- the prosperity and development of the people of Chile
- y amistad entre India y Chile.
(to friendship between India and Chile)