India and 50 African countries adopted the ‘Lucknow Declaration’ on Thursday, at the first India – Africa Defence Minister’s Conclave held on the sidelines of the ongoing DefExpo in Lucknow. Defence Minister Rajnath Singh and his counterparts from 12 African countries were present at the conclave, along with representatives of 38 other African countries.
The ‘Lucknow Declaration’ states that all the signatories “commit to continue our collaboration in the fields of peace and security including conflict prevention, resolution, management and peace building through exchange of expertise and training, strengthening regional and continental early warning capacities and mechanisms, enhancing the role of women in peace keeping and propagating the culture of peace”.
Stating that terrorism is a major threat in the region, the declaration said the signatories “condemn, in the strongest terms, the growing threat of terrorism and acknowledge that it constitutes a major threat to peace and security in the region. We urge all countries to take resolute action in rooting out terrorism in all its forms and manifestations, terrorist safe havens and infrastructure, disrupting terrorist networks and eliminating financing channels and halting cross-border movement of terrorists. We emphasize the need for stronger international partnership in countering terrorism and violent extremism, including through increased sharing of information and intelligence”.
Regarding the aligning views of India and the African nations on the importance of the Indo-Pacific, the declaration also stated that all member countries “encourage enhanced cooperation between India and Africa on the evolving concept of Indo-Pacific and welcome the AU (African Union) vision for peace and security in Africa that coincides with India’s vision of SAGAR (Security and Growth for all in the Region)”.
The countries also called for deeper cooperation in the defence industry through investments and joint ventures, among other things.
It also mentioned India’s contribution to defence and security in the African continent.
Speaking at the event, Singh iterated that Africa is “at the top of India’s priorities” and also said “our partnership with Africa is an open partnership with all the possibilities and avenues for collaboration from our side being open to you to choose from and decide as per your priorities”.
He also stressed the importance of safe seas which he said were a prerequisite for development of a ‘Blue economy’ in the region. At another event organised by the US-India Business Council, Singh spoke on India’s relationship with the United States. He said that the “Indo-US relationship will move towards collaboration approach from the traditional ‘buyer-seller’ approach” and added that he was “confident that this relationship will be more dynamic and vibrant in future”.
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