India calls for greater engagement with Africa

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New Delhi, Mar 21 (UNI) India today called for zero tolerance against terrorism and sought cooperation from African countries and the international community both bilaterally and in multilateral fora against the scourge.

It also soght cooperation from African countries for democratisation and expansion of the UN Security Council (UNSC), at the Doha Round of negotiations, convergence of the per capita Green House Gas (GHG) emissions between developed and developing countries and transfer of technologies at affordable prices.

External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee, in his valedictory address at the Fourth CII-Exim Bank Conclave on India-Africa Project Partnership here, said that India and the Common Market For Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA) had decided to set up a Joint Working Group (JWG) to study the posibilities of a Comprehensve Economic Cooperation Agreement (CECA).

Negotiations were also on for a Preferential Trade Agreement (PTA) with the South African Customs Union, he said.

The three-day Conclave, coming ahead of the India-Africa Summit meeting to be organised here in April, concluded today with Vice Presidents of Ghana and Tanzania and Ministers from 33 African countries attending the brain-storming deliberations.

Nearly 600 delegates attended.

Among other thngs, the conclave decided that new momentum would be given to the alternative energy sector by Indian industry to establish a synergestic relationship with the African power sector.

Four Memoranda of Understanding (MOUs) were signed during the past two days for cooperation in various sectors.

Describing India and Africa as ''natural allies'' with a common civlilisational heritage, common ideals and icons, the External Affairs Minister said Africa had always enjoyed an important position in India's Foreign Policy.

''...there is substantial scope for cooperation between Africa and India to help people have a better quanlity of life. What we need is to identify areas of core competence and match these with economic and societal needs of a particular nation. Knowledge sharing, knowledge creation and knowledge dissemination must be a vital component of our cooperation,'' he added.

Pointing out that terrorism constituted a grave threat to the civilised world, Mr Mukherjee said this ''evil'' could only be combated by exercising ''zero tolerance'' for all kinds of terrorist violence and by significantly enhancing the levels of international cooperation.

''India looks forward to enhancing its cooperation with African countries on this matter, both bilaterally and in various multi-lateral fora,'' he said, stressing the importance of the concusion of the Comprehensve Convention on International Terrorism.

On climate change he said India's commitment to solutions based on common but differentiated responsibility and respective capabilities remained steadfast.

''We seek a convergence of par capita GHG emissions between the developed and developing world,'' the External Affairs Minister said.

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