Vice President Hamid Ansari returned home on Saturday after concluding his five-day visit to the North-African countries of Morocco and Tunisia during which he met the top leadership of the two countries and discussed a range of issues of mutual interest.
On Friday, the last day of the tour, Ansari had addressed a gathering at the Tunisian Institute of Strategic Studies and called on Tunisian President Beji Caid Essebsi. Ansari also met with two influential political leaders – President of the Ennahda Party Rached Ghannouchi and Mufti of the Republic of Tunisia Othmane Battikh.
Before leaving for India, Ansari also visited Carthage Ruins situated on the eastern side of the Lake of Tunis and Sidi Bou Said – a town located 20 kms from the capital. Secretary (Economic Relations) Amar Sinha said during his visit to Tunisia that the Vice President focussed on India’s role in Tunisia whose leadership recalled the visit of former prime minister Indira Gandhi.
India’s past, including role of Mahatma Gandhi in the freedom struggle and visit of Indira Gandhi to North African region in 1984 has a lot of influence in Tunisia, Sinha told reporters.
He also said that the main challenge for Tunisia is to revive its tourism industry. Currently, tourists from Europe visit the region, he said, adding that efforts would be made for Indian tourists to visit the region. Sinha said that India would help Tunisia in the industry sector. Tata, Mahindra and Dabur have started taking interest in the region, he added.
According to him, Tunisia has a lot to offer in the health sector and so Indian doctors and health institutions could also explore setting up their units in the North-African country. Besides, the pharma sector could also explore the region to capitalise on those coming to Tunisia for treatment.
Sinha said that during interactions, need was stressed for higher level of meetings at the political level. India would like to explore the markets of Tunisia and Morocco, he said, adding that there is a lot of scope for Indian companies in this region.
He said that India could learn from Moroccan capital Rabat as far as cleanliness was concerned. In Rabat, Ansari met Moroccan Prime Minister Abdelilah Benkirane and others including the Speakers of the two houses. India and Morocco signed two MoUs on cultural cooperation and institutional training.