India and South Africa,whose historical ties have acquired a robust and dynamic character,on Wednesday decided to expand cooperation in a number of fields like power,information technology (IT),health,tourism and infrastructure development. This was stated by President Pratibha Patil after talks with her South African counterpart Jacob Zuma.
Patil was accorded a warm welcome,with Zuma terming her visit as significant,saying it was happening in the year that the oldest liberation movement in Africa,the African National Congress,was marking its centenary.
The Indian Presidents unexpected quip about how she would 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 brought a smile on South African faces and drew an applause.
Patil said both countries are bound by history,emotional attachment,cultural affinities and indeed,kinship. She said all those elements have now transformed ties into that of a strategic nature. She described discussions with Zuma as wide-ranging and focussing on areas that could be explored further,with Indian companies investing in capacity building,by systematic training of South Africans and creating jobs.
Zuma spoke of the 4Ts that were the new basis of the relationship transport,trade,tourism and training. He stressed expansion of ties in new areas such as training,trade relations and tourism but paid special emphasis on inviting Indian business to invest in our infrastructural development programme.
An important part of Patils tour is around sites related to Mahatma Gandhi in Durban and Cape Town. The President said India is interested in working closely with the government of South Africa to develop the Gandhi heritage sites.
The Patil-Zuma meeting was followed by delegation-level talks. On Thursday,business delegations of the two sides are scheduled to meet and inform the leaders how bilateral ties can be expanded. Patil will leave for Cape Town on Thursday.
Taking family normal: MEA
With the revelation that President Pratibha Patil has taken along two grandchildren on her visit to Seychelles and South Africa threatening to stir a controversy,the External Affairs Ministry Wednesday said it was a normal diplomatic practice.
It’s a normal diplomatic practice that a visiting dignitaries occasionally takes members of his/her family on visiting trips. Hospitality for such dignitaries in such cases is usually provided by the host government. It is not abnormal, Syed Akbaruddin,the spokesperson of the ministry,said.