Pranab Mukherjee to visit Brazil, South Africa

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New Delhi, Feb 15 (UNI) External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee begins a week-long tour of Brazil and South Africa from tomorrow for discussions on strengthening economic and political ties and the forthcoming IBSA Summit to be hosted by India later this year.

The External Affairs Minister, who leaves here tonight, will visit Brazil from February 16-18.

He will go to South Africa from February 21-22 to attend the seventh Joint Commission Meeting.

In Brazil, on the first leg of his tour, Mr Mukherjee will meet President Lula Da Silva, the Prime Minister and other leaders and have discussions on the third India-Brazil-South Africa (IBSA) Summit to be held in India later this year.

Some agreements will be signed, an External Affairs Ministry spokesman said here today, without specifying.

''Relations between the two countries were upgraded to Strategic Partnership after the visit of Prime Minister manmohan Singh to that country in 2006...Trade between the two countries is 3.1 billion US Dollars.

The External Affairs Minister who will be in South Africa to chair the seventh Joint Commission Meeting, will have discussions with President Thabo M'Beki, African National Congress (ANC) leader Jacob Zuma and other leaders on the developments.

The leaders will also review the progress in bilateral relations since the previous Joint Commission Meeting.

The two countriess will sign four agreements including for visa-free travel for official and siplomatic passport holders and for cooperation in agriculture, science and technology and customs.

UNI RB VD KN1918

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