India and South Africa sealed a three-year strategic programme covering all aspects of bilateral ties as Prime Minister Narendra Modi met visiting South African President Cyril Ramaphosa Friday. The strategic programme will cover cooperation in a range of areas, including defence and security, trade and investment, the blue economy, tourism, IT and agriculture.
Ramaphosa, who arrived Friday from Davos, will be the chief guest at the Republic Day celebrations Saturday. This is the second time a South African leader is Chief Guest at Republic Day — Nelson Mandela was the chief guest in 1995.
In his statement to the media, Modi said, “During our interactions today with the President, we reviewed all the dimensions of our relations. Our trade and investment relations are becoming more and more intense. Our bilateral trade is more than $10 billion. South Africa participated as the Partner Country in the ‘Vibrant Gujarat’ summit held this year.
And Indian companies are taking active part in the efforts of President Ramaphosa to increase investment in South Africa. We are also partners in South Africa’s skill development efforts. The Gandhi-Mandela Skills Institute is set to be established soon in Pretoria. And we both are committed to take these relationships to a new level.”
“Presence of President Ramaphosa on the Republic Day and participation as the Chief Guest is a symbol of our shared commitment to strengthen our relations,” the Prime Minister said.
Ramaphosa said his country was looking at a “result-oriented” partnership with India through implementation of the three-year strategic exchange programme.
After the fourth meeting between Modi and Ramaphosa within a year, the two leaders recalled the Strategic Partnership established between India and South Africa through the Red Fort Declaration of March 1997 and the Tshwane Declaration of October 2006, and expressed satisfaction at the deepening and widening of this bilateral partnership.
Stressing the need to deepen relations in the political, economic, defence, scientific, consular and socio-cultural spheres, they agreed that the 10th Session of the India-South Africa Joint Ministerial Commission will be held in 2019 in Delhi led by the Foreign Ministers of both the countries.
A joint statement said the two leaders expressed satisfaction at the “steady pace of cooperation in the defence sector” encompassing a wide range of engagements, including defence production, joint collaboration, manufacturing, research and development, training and joint exercises.
Noting the need for concerted action by the global community against terrorism through early agreement and adoption of the UN Comprehensive Convention on International Terrorism, as well as the implementation of the UN
Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy in a balanced and integrated manner, the two leaders “condemned terrorism in all its forms and manifestations regardless of its motivations, whenever, wherever and by whosoever committed”.
They recognised the importance of increased bilateral naval cooperation and closer synergy within the context of Indian Ocean Naval Symposium which, by keeping the sea lanes secure against illegal actors, will ensure unhindered passage for trade and continued prosperity of the entire Indian Ocean Region.
The two sides also expressed concern at the slow pace of UN reforms and committed themselves to securing representation in an expanded UN Security Council to achieve a more representative UN Security Council Membership. They also reiterated their commitment to working together on strengthening cooperation to address fugitive economic offenders.