Manmohan Singh to meet Nigerian President

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Abuja (Nigeria), Oct 15: Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, who is on a three-day visit to Nigeria, will hold talks with President Umaru Yar"Adua here today.

The meeting is likely to be followed by a joint declaration to take forward the bilateral ties.

Singh is also scheduled to address a joint session of the Nigerian National Assembly later in the day.

Yesterday, Singh called for better ties with Nigeria by saying that this African country plays an important role in meeting India's quest for energy security.

Interacting with the Indian community residing in Nigeria, he also said that New Delhi gives top priority to better the trade ties with Abuja.

Singh said Nigeria is India's largest trade partner in Africa and is largest suppliers of crude oil, while a number of Indian companies, both public and private, have found willing homes in Nigeria.

At a reception hosted by Indian High Commissioner to Nigeria HHS Viswanathan, he called upon the Indian community to contribute their enterprises in nation building during, saying India offers limitless opportunities.

Singh said India was a rapidly growing economy, and expressed confidence that it would continue to sustain a growth rate of between 9-10 per cent to get rid of country's chronic poverty.

He arrived here last afternoon in the first leg of his two-nation trip to Africa.

Singh was received by the Nigerian Minister for Foreign Affairs Ojo Maduekew and HHS Viswanathan at the Nnamdi Azikiwe International airport on his arrival.

A Nigerian cultural dance troupe representing three major ethnic groups welcomed the Prime Minister and his wife Gurusharan Kaur with customary tribal tradition at the airport. The dancers were attired in traditional costume from east and north Nigeria.

Singh's visit assumes significance as Nigeria is India's largest trading partner in Africa and recorded trade of about 7.9 billion dollars in 2005-06. Nigeria is one of India's largest suppliers of crude oil, while a number of Indian companies both public and private have operations in the country.

The Prime Minister is leading a high delegation consisting of Minister of State for External Affairs Anand Sharma, Minister of State for Mines T Subbarami Reddy, National Security Adviser MK Narayanan, Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas Secretary MS Srinivasan and Commerce Secretary GK Pillai.

India has had a long-standing defence relationship with Nigeria and has been involved in training of Nigerian defence personnel and setting up of military training institutions in the country. It is expected that the defence ties would get a major boost during the visit as Indian defence Secretary Vijay Singh is also accompanying the Prime Minister.

Several issues of bilateral, regional and multilateral interest are expected to be discussed during the course of the visit, which will also feature a meeting with the Economic management team of Nigerian President.

 

ANI
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