Why Prez Pranab suddenly on non-stop foreign tours

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 Pranab Mukherjee
New Delhi, March 12: Is President Pranab Mukherjee the 'foreign envoy-in-disguise' of the UPA government?

He had gone to Bangladesh amid serious domestic turmoil just a few days ago for New Delhi thought Mukherjee's visit would make a significant contribution in taking forward the bilateral relation between the two neighbours particularly when both New Delhi and Dhaka are trying to settle some significant issues.

Now, within a week after returning from Bangladesh, Mukherjee left the shores on Monday for Mauritius, a country with which India shares historical links. The Indian President arrived in the African country as the chief guest at the latter's Independence Day celebrations on Tuesday. But is the programme the only reason for Mukherjee's visit?

Sources in New Delhi said it is not. The President's Mauritius tour would focus on economic diplomacy just as it had emphasised on peace and security initiatives during the tour to Dhaka. According to a report published in Anandabazaar Patrika on Tuesday, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh requested the President to undertake more foreign tours to improve India's foreign ties at various corners of the world.

Mukherjee, who had served as India's foreign minister, is no stranger to foreign policy issues and the UPA government could not have found a better ally than him in promoting its own interests abroad.

According to the report, it was the PM's initiative which had pushed the President to go on two back-to-back foreign tours to serve the nation's diplomatic interests. Some see a shadow of the Chinese model in the emerging mechanism where the President and PM jointly deal with issues in foreign diplomacy.

The President's tour of Mauritius is considered important for a major chunk of the foreign institutional investment in India originates from the east African nation.

It is believed that the Manmohan Singh government is eyeing to utilise the 'Mauritius route' more to improve the health of the nation's economy, just it had aimed to secure India's security interests by drawing closer to Dhaka through river-water sharing and land-border settlement treaties.

Mauritius's geo-strategic significance can not be overlooked by New Delhi either, particularly at a time when China is trying to assert its influence across the Indian Ocean region and African continent.

Mukherjee, during his three-day visit, would meet the president and prime minister of Mauritius and the two countries could also see inking of three bilateral pacts, the report said.

Mukherjee will next tour Sri Lanka, another neighbouring country which has been at the centre of storm both at home and abroad of late over questions of human rights violation.

New Delhi hopes that the President's visit will help addressing issues concerning a heated-up domestic politics in southern India and also peace and security. China's growing influence in the island-nation has also been a worry for India and President Mukherjee's visit could be a move towards bringing the neighbour closer to India.

OneIndia News

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