29-04-2012 : On Board Special Aircraft
We will be visiting the Republic of Seychelles and the Republic of South Africa. The Presidents of both these countries have visited India, and I am reciprocating their visits with a view to reaffirm our strong commitment to further reinforce and broaden our ties with them.
India-Seychelles relations have been characterized by close friendship, understanding and cooperation. Our diplomatic ties were established with Seychelles at its independence in 1976. Since then our engagement with Seychelles has been constant and regular. Seychelles today is one of our close friends.
There have been exchanges of high level visits, even though a visit at the Presidential level from India to Seychelles is taking place after about 22 years. These political level contacts have imparted momentum to the relationship and helped consolidate and move forward our bilateral ties. Due to these regular visits and engagements, our partnership today is a comprehensive one that has depth and diversity, and is mutually beneficial. Both our countries are committed to democratic ideals and principles.
My visit to Seychelles manifests our common desire to deepen and widen our relations and to elevate it to newer heights. During my visit, I will be meeting President James Alix Michel, the Vice President as well as several Cabinet Ministers. I will be addressing the National Assembly. I look forward to my discussions with the Seychelles leadership on a wide range of bilateral, regional and international issues of mutual interest.
India and Seychelles share the waters of the Indian Ocean. The Indian Ocean is a strong bond between us. We are committed to working together closely in order to ensure the safety and security of the Indian Ocean region in the face of threats of piracy and terrorism. We are determined to continue to work with the Government of Seychelles to ensure a secure environment for the mutual benefit of our peoples.
Seychelles was re-admitted to the Indian Ocean Rim-Association for Regional Cooperation (IOR-ARC) during the IOR-ARC Ministerial meeting held in Bengaluru in November 2011. This provides India and Seychelles another forum to work together.
A delegation of Indian businesspersons is accompanying me. They will have interactions with relevant chambers and businessmen in Seychelles and in South Africa to identify sectors for trade and investment. In both the countries, I will also be meeting members of the Indian community.
South Africa is a country with which we have deep rooted historical ties and share a truly strategic and multi-faceted relationship. I am looking forward to my visit to South Africa, as an opportunity to strengthen the framework of co-operation and to reaffirm our unique relationship. During my visit, I will be meeting President Jacob Zuma and Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe. I will also have an opportunity to interact with South African Parliamentarians. The presence of a large number of people of Indian origin in South Africa, lends special significance to our relations.
It was in South Africa that Gandhiji began his journey of Satyagraha, which won India its freedom and gave to humanity a philosophy that offers hope for peace all over the world even today. Apart from unveiling the bust of Mahatma Gandhi in Johannesburg, I will be paying homage to Gandhiji in South Africa at the Pietermaritzburg Railway Station, where he was thrown out from the train, and at the Phoenix Settlement set-up by Gandhiji. My other engagement would include a visit to the Robben Island, in Cape Town where Nelson Mandela was incarcerated for over 18 years, to pay respect to the indomitable spirit of those involved in the inspirational struggle for the inalienable right of all people to a life of freedom and dignity
We view South Africa as one of our closest strategic partners in the developing world and in the African continent. We work together in various international fora including the United Nations Security Council, G-20, IBSA, BRICS, IOR-ARC and others. We share common perceptions with South Africa on trade issues and are closely coordinating our position on the Doha round of negotiations at the World trade Organization.
My visit to the friendly countries of Seychelles and South Africa is a part of our efforts to further consolidate our ties with Africa, foundations of which lie in a shared history of colonialism and struggle for freedom, as also in a common vision of the development of our peoples. Africa occupies an important position in India's foreign policy. We have initiated the India-Africa Forum Summit, the second meeting of this forum was held in Addis Ababa in May 2011. This has helped forge a blueprint for future partnership between India and Africa. I am confident that this process will open new vistas for cooperation between India and the countries of Africa.
I am happy to see all of you on board and wish you the very best.