PM leaves for Johannesburg to attend IBSA Summit

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Abuja, Oct 16 (UNI) Prime Minister Manmohan Singh today left for South Africa to attend the Second India-Brazil-South Africa (IBSA) Summit in Johannesburg, beginning tomorrow.

The two-day Summit of IBSA, the fledgling tri-nation grouping of the major economies of Asia, Latin America and Africa, is expected to provide a framework for mutual cooperation in various fields and a forum for interaction on regional and multilateral issues besides South-South cooperation.

Notwithstanding the uncertainty over the Indo-US Nuclear deal in the face of Left opposition, the IBSA summit will provide a useful opportunity to Dr Singh to garner the support of Brazil and South Africa, influential members of the 45-nation Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG), for global civil nuclear cooperation.

A Joint Declaration would be issued at the end of the Summit, which seeks to enable the strengthening and deepening of South-South cooperation. Several MoUs will be signed in areas such as human resources, culture, social development, health and medicines, public administration, higher education and on customs and tax administration and cooperation, Mr Nalin Surie, Secretary (West) in the External Ministry said.

He said the Prime Minister would hold bilateral meetings with South African President Thabo Mbeki and Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva after the summit meeting.

Dr Singh had met Mr Lula and Mr Mbeki in Berlin last June on the sidelines of the G-8 Summit. President Lula had paid a state visit to India early this year.

''It is our expectation that the Second Summit will represent a fresh milestone in the progressive development of IBSA,'' Mr Surie said.

Prior to the IBSA Summit, a series of important activities would be held in Johannesburg. These include an Academic Seminar, a Business Seminar, a Women's Forum and a Parliamentary Forum.

The Indian complement at the Business Seminar would be composed of representatives from FICCI, CII and ASSOCHAM.

India would be represented by MPs Sandeep Dikshit, Jitin Prasad, Harin Pathak and Alok Kumar Mehta at the Parliamentary Forum. In the Women's Forum, Indian delegation would be led by the Secretary, Ministry of Women and Child Development, and would include representatives from NGOs such as Guild of Service, Women's Power Connect and a representative of Amul.

IBSA is a unique forum which brings together India, Brazil and South Africa, three large democracies from three different continents. It provides an important instrumentality for cooperation on regional and international issues of common concern such as climate change, reform of the UN, WTO negotiations, cooperation in civil nuclear energy and terrorism.

The first IBSA Summit was held in Brasilia in 2006.


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