02-05-2012 : Pretoria, South Africa
My delegation and I are deeply touched by the warmth of the reception, and the generous hospitality accorded to us by the Government and the people of South Africa. I bring greetings and good wishes from the people of India to the people of South Africa.
India and South Africa are bound by ties of history, emotional attachment, cultural affinities and indeed, kinship. It is even more satisfying that our bilateral relationship today has acquired a robust and dynamic character, to assume the dimension of a strategic partnership. Since the establishment of our relations in 1994, we have developed strong ties and institutional frameworks for dialogue and cooperation in the political, economic, commercial, science and technology fields. Our bilateral relations today are wide-ranging, multi-dimensional and mutually beneficial. Our shared and abiding commitment to the ideals of democracy and pluralism has only reinforced our close and friendly ties. My visit to South Africa is part of our tradition of regular high-level exchanges, reaffirming our common commitment to take our relations onward to new heights.
Today's discussions with His Excellency President Jacob Zuma were wide ranging and covered bilateral, regional and international issues of mutual interest. The focus of our discussions was on issues covering the vast canvass of Indo-South African relations. While expressing satisfaction over the current state of our relations, we did feel that considerable opportunities existed which are needed to be fully explored, particularly in the area of trade and economic cooperation. Indian companies are investing in capacity building by systematic training of South Africans, creating jobs and playing an important role in the development and economic growth of South Africa. A business delegation from India accompanies me, and it would explore business opportunities in South Africa, to give greater thrust to this important sphere of our interaction. President Zuma and I will be participating in the Business Forum tomorrow to listen to views of captains of industry from both sides, and encourage them to contribute to our bilateral economic exchanges.
We have agreed to closely monitor the implementation of various agreements that exist and expand co-operation in the fields of power including renewable energy, health, Information Technology, Science and Technology, tourism, hospitality, infrastructure development and culture. People to people contacts are at the heart of our vibrant and robust relationship. India is interested in working closely with the Government of South Africa to develop Gandhi heritage sites in South Africa. Both the governments continue to support the wide range of linkages that exist between our universities, research institutes, academic institutions, think-tanks, media houses and civil society. We are mindful of the sporting ties between the countries, especially in cricket. I would also like to recognise the South African hand in the form of Coach Gary Kirsten in ensuring victory for India in the Cricket World Cup in 2011.
I have thanked the Government of the Republic of South Africa for its meaningful contribution, as one of our closest partners, on important issues like reform of the United Nations, reform of the international financial system, including the Bretton Woods Institutions, climate change and global trade talks. India and South Africa are members of IBSA, BRICS, G-20, IOR-ARC, NAM, the Commonwealth and other plurilateral as well as multilateral bodies, where we work together.
Piracy in the Indian Ocean region adversely impacts on us all. We are deeply committed to working with the Government of South Africa and its people, to ensure that our trade routes are not affected, and we are able to bring a sense of safety and security in the maritime waters.
I am confident that today's discussions have promoted a better understanding of issues of mutual interest and established a solid foundation for the deepening and expansion of our mutually beneficial strategic partnership, and in bringing our two peoples closer together for a better future.