New Delhi, May 30: Vice President Hamid Ansari today embarked on a five-day visit to Morocco and Tunisia as part of efforts to build on diplomatic gains from the India-Africa Summit and lay platform for a future partnership. This is the first visit by an Indian Vice President in 50 years to the two nations.
The Vice President will discuss with leaders of the two north African countries issues of terrorism, UN Security Council expansion and investments in private sector, as well as ways to strengthen outreach to Africa and regional matters.
Ansari will be in Morocco till June 1 at the invitation of Prime Minister Abdelilah Benkirane and the two leaders would jointly launch the India-Morocco Chamber of Commerce and Industry in Rabat, the External Affairs Ministry (MEA) said.
During the visit, a number of MoUs will be signed in areas like education, IT and communication technology sectors, focusing on "capacity building and cultural exchange".
In the second leg of his tour, Ansari will visit Tunisia from June 2-3. Ansari's visit "will build on diplomatic gains" from the India-Africa summit and "we have chosen these two countries as they are great examples of democracy", Secretary (Economic Relations) in the MEA Amar Sinha had said.
The King of Morocco had set the ball rolling when he came here in October, Sinha said. The New Delhi Summit - of which Morocco's King Mohammed VI was the first confirmed guest - was the largest political conference in modern history connecting Indian and African leaders.
He said it is the first high-level visit to the African country after Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee went there in 1999. "At the level of Vice President the visit comes after 50 years," he had said, noting that it is the 50th year of Morocco's independence.
"Hello Africa, Tell me how are you doing?" will be India's motto for the continent, he had said, adding, there will be a series of visits by Indian leaders to Africa in the coming days. The two countries are important for India as it shares economic relations with them and the visit will help in building contemporary relationship between these two countries and India.
Both the countries are looking forward to the visit as they are key partners in food security and fertilisers and investments in private sector.
"Our car and truck manufacturers are looking at prospective markets," he said. While Morocco's trade with India is "substantial", there is scope for increasing it with Tunisia. "Morocco is a developing destination for Indian film industry," he said.