India, SICA to achieve one Billion US $ trade target by 2011

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New Delhi, June 10 (UNI) India and the eight Central American countries constituting the Central American Integration System (SICA), today agreed to achieve a trade target of more than one billion US dollars by 2011 and signed five pacts for easing visa regulations and promoting Foreign Office consultations.

The two sides also decided to set up a Joint Technical Committee for food security as SICA countries sought India's help to combat the looming food crisis in the world.

While agreements were signed for abolition of visa restrictions for official and diplomatic passport holders, an MoU on Foreign Office Consultations was initialled between India, Honduras and Costa Rica.

External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee and the Foreign Ministers of SICA countries, who held talks here today on various aspects of relations, discussed ways to strengthen cooperation in IT, trade and economic sectors and for combating looming food crisis and climate change.

The eight-member SICA comprises Mexico, Belize, Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador, Nicaragua, Costa Rica and Panama.Dominican Republic is an associate member of the grouping.

External Affairs Ministry spokesman Navtez Sarna told reporters that India had already offered a 10 million US dollar Line of Credit to each of the SICA members and increase the number of scholarships from 68 to 100 for students from SICA countries. India has set up IT centres in five SICA countries.

He said India and SICA countries have common views on issues including UN reforms, climate change, energy security, Doha round of trade talks and terrorism.

The Foreign Ministers of SICA countries who arrived here this morning, also called on Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Vice President Hamid Ansari.

Tomorrow, they will have discussions with representatives of the Indian industry at a meeting organised by the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII).

SICA countries have sought Indian investment particularly in Information Technology.

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