Vice President Hamid Ansari returned here today after concluding his five-day visit of Rwanda and Uganda and said India was received with “exceptional warmth”. During his two-nation tour, India signed three agreements in Kigali in the fields of innovation, aviation and visa regime. He visited Rwanda from February 19-21 and Uganda from February 21-23. “We held bilateral talks with top leadership of both the countries to further strength our ties with the two countries as part of the government’s conscious effort to intensify engagement with Africa and I must say we were received with exceptional warmth,” Ansari told reporters onboard the special aircraft. During the last day of visit in Uganda, Ansari met the Speaker of the Ugandan Parliament and presented a copy of the Indian Constitution, besides holding bilateral talks.
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The Vice President had left the Ugandan capital late last night. Ansari had on February 22 held bilateral talks with the top leadership in Kampala, including President Yoweri Museveni and Vice President Edward Kiwanuka Ssekandi. After the talks, India and Uganda decided to expand cooperation in the field of energy sector and training of personnel for space programme and peaceful use of atomic energy, even as the resource-rich East African country pitched for Indian companies to manufacture automobiles locally to discourage import of cars.
Ansari had arrived in Kampala on February 21, after winding up his three-day Rwanda visit during which he held bilateral talks with President Paul Kagame, President of the Senate Bernard Makuza and attended India-Rwanda Business Forum. At the forum, India and Rwanda signed three MoUs to boost bilateral cooperation in areas of innovation, aviation and visa regime, which includes setting up of an entrepreneurship development centre in that country and starting of a direct flight to Mumbai.
At the India-Uganda Business Forum, Ansari emphasised that business ties with Uganda is a “key pillar” of the bilateral relationship and India is going to step up engagement with that country to send out a strong message to business communities on both sides to avail opportunities not just in Uganda but entire East Africa. This was the first high-level bilateral visit to Uganda from India since 1997 and first high-level visit to Rwanda. The Vice President, along with wife Salma, was travelling with Union Minister of State for Social Justice and Empowerment Vijay Sampla, four MPs — Kanimozhi, Ranvijay Singh Judev, Ranee Narah and P K Biju, and senior officials.
The Vice President had said that this visit was part of a “conscious effort” by the Indian government to “intensify interactions” with Africa.