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PM to hold talks with Brazilian leaders today

Written by: Staff

Brasilia, Sep 12: Prime Minister Manmohan Singh will hold talks with Brazilian leaders here today in an effort to boost economic and political ties between the two developing countries to a new high and give a new dimension to South-South cooperation.

Dr Singh set the tone for the three-day visit to this Latin American democracy by saying that Brazil had always fascinated him personally.

"Brazil is now in a state of development where there are many complementarities between our two countries," he told journalists accompanying him on the nine-day trip that will also take him to Cuba for the 14th NAM Summit.

Describing Brazil as an agricultural superpower, Dr Singh said India could learn a great deal from the way its agricultural universities and research institutions functioned.

"Brazil has done remarkably well in energy security.They have offered us participation in exploration and development of their oil fields. It has become nearly self-sufficient in its energy requirements," he said.

The Prime Minister said Brazil had invited India to participate in the International Ethanol Initiative launched by it. He also felt the two countries could pool their vast scientific and technological resources.

"In all these fields, we can learn a lot from Brazil. At the same time, I think Brazil can learn from our development experiences," he observed.

Dr Singh was given a ceremonial welcome last evening on his arrival here after an overnight stay in Frankfurt.

Commerce and Industry Minister Kamal Nath and Minister of State for External Affairs Anand Sharma arrived here a day ahead of the Prime Minister. National Security Adviser M K Narayanan is also part of his delegation.

Dr Singh, the first Indian Prime Minister to visit Brazil in 38 years after Mrs Indira Gandhi came here in 1968, will hold talks with Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva and other leaders today. The two sides are slated to sign as many as eight agreements covering cooperation in the areas of science and technology, aviation, human settlements, standards, culture, manufacture of railway wagons, petroleum and gas and plant health. .

Tomorrow, Dr Singh will attend the first India-Brazil-South Africa (IBSA) Summit, where he and the Brazilian President will be joined by South African President Thabo Mbeki.

The three largest democracies of Asia, Latin America and Africa will sign five trilateral documents designed to bring them closer to each other.

On September 14, the Prime Minister will fly to Havana for the 14th NAM Summit on September 15 and 16.

Dr Singh will leave for home from Havana on September 17 and is scheduled to be back home on the night of September 18 after an overnight stay at Frankfurt.

The Prime Minister said for him foreign policy was essentially a device to widen India's development options.

"The foremost problem before our country is to get rid of chronic poverty, ignorance and disease which still afflict millions of people. We need a strong economy. We need a fast growing economy.

We need a pattern of growth which creates a lot more jobs.

"Whether it is improving relations with the US or with China or choosing the potential of cooperation with other developing countries, whether in Africa or Latin America, I think it fits into the overall picture of making use of all opportunities to expand our economic and other multi-faceted contacts with other countries," he said.

India attaches great importance to its relations with Brazil, one of the most dynamic economies in the world, with which it has developed a close partnership in recent years.

Bilateral trade has touched 2.3 billion dollars and there has been an encouraging trend of cross-investments.

On the political front, Brazil has been on the same side as India on many issues such as terrorism, UN Security Council reforms, disarmament and global trade negotiations.

Both countries are part of the G-4 initiative on UN Security Council reforms and are aspirants for a permanent seat in the body.

The Brazilian President had visited India in January, 2004, when he was the Chief Guest at the Republic Day Parade.


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