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PM visit may consolidate ties with Brazil, Cuba

Written by: Staff

Frankfurt, Sep 11: Prime Minister Manmohan Singh arrived here this evening on his way to Brazil and Cuba for the India-Brazil-South Africa (IBSA) and Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) summits which are expected to set the stage for a new era in South-South cooperation.

In his statement, prior to his departure from New Delhi this afternoon, Dr Singh said that he hoped his visit to Brazil would ''consolidate an extremely positive trend in our bilateral relations with that great country which we consider as one of our main partners in Latin America.'' ''I hope to discuss a wide range of issues including adding content to our political and economic interactions and cooperation in defence, agriculture and energy security. Brazil and India already enjoy an excellent tradition of cooperation in international fora,'' he added.

Noting the bilateral visit would be followed by the India-Brazil-South Africa (IBSA) Summit where President Mbeki of South Africa would also be participating, the Prime Minister said that IBSA had ''already emerged as a shining example of South-South Cooperation.'' ''The first IBSA Summit will provide a useful opportunity to review the progress that has been made over the last 3 years since IBSA was first established. Our discussions are expected to focus on issues of global concern including energy security, international terrorism and the challenges of sustainable and equitable development. An IBSA Business Summit will add a new dimension to our interactions,'' he said.

Dr Singh, who will reach Brasilia tomorrow after an overnight stay here, will have bilateral meetings with President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva and other Brazilian leaders on September 12, during which the two sides will sign as many as eight agreements aimed at taking their relationship to a new high.

The first IBSA summit will be held on the following day at the end of which the three-year-old grouping of the largest democracies in Asia, Africa and Latin America will sign five trilateral documents designed to bring them closer to each other, especially in the areas of agriculture, biofuels, information technology and trade.

This will be the first bilateral visit to Brazil by an Indian Prime Minister in 38 years after Mrs Indira Gandhi had visited the country in 1968.

Stressing India's ''close, friendly and historic relations with Cuba,'' Dr Singh said that he was ''looking forward to participating in the 14th NAM Summit Conference being held in Havana.'' ''As a founding member of this great Movement, India will play its part in helping NAM to revitalise itself so as to pursue the shared interests of its member states in a transformed world,'' he said, adding that ''mutual support and solidarity among NAM members is of prime importance as we confront several common challenges such as making globalization more inclusive, the scourge of terrorism and addressing widespread hunger, poverty and disease.'' ''We will rededicate the Non-Aligned Movement to the universal causes of peace, disarmament and the progress and prosperity of all human kind,'' Dr Singh asserted.

The 14th NAM Summit at Havana on September 15-16 will see the coming together of 116 member-states with a renewed resolve to project a new and contemporary vision of the movement and make it more relevant to the post-Cold War and post 9/11 world.

The Prime Minister also said that during his stay in Havana, he looked forward to ''fruitful interactions with a number of leaders from the developing world.'' Dr Singh told mediapersons aboard the aircraft that he was also hopeful of meeting Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf and ''efforts were being made by both sides to arrange the meeting.'' Dr Singh was received here by Indian as well as German officials.

Though the Prime Minister has no official engagement here, he will be staying for the night and will leave in the morning for Brasilia, where is expected to reach tomorrow evening (0230 hrs IST).


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