Venkaiah to visit Comoros, Sierra Leone, sign bilateral pacts

New Delhi, Oct. 9:

Vice President M Venkaiah Naidu will be on a visit to Comoros and Sierra Leone from October 10-14 during which he will hold talks with the top leadership of those countries to give a new momentum to bilateral ties as part of India’s Africa outreach policy.

The vice president’s trip will be the first-ever high-level visit from India to the two countries, the Ministry of External Affairs said in a statement.

Naidu will reach Moroni, Comoros, on Thursday and will have a detailed bilateral meeting with President Azali Assoumani the next day.

He will also meet President of the Assembly of the Union of Comoros Abdou Ousseni, and address the Parliament Session there.

The vice president will hold an interaction with the Indian community on October 10.

During the visit a number of MoUs and agreements are likely to be signed, the MEA said.

India shares close, warm and friendly relations with Comoros which are cemented by mutual trust, development partnership and presence of a small but significant Indian diaspora, it said.

India has extended concessional lines of credit of USD 41.6 million for setting up of an 18 MW power plant in Moroni.

The bilateral trade reached USD 47.11 million in 2018-19, the statement said.

On the second leg of his visit, the vice president will arrive in Free Town, Sierra Leone, on October 12 October.

He will have a detailed bilateral meeting with Sierra Leone President Brig (Retd.) Julius Maada Wonie Bio on Sunday and will meet Speaker of Sierra Leone Parliament Abass Chernor Bundu and Foreign Minister Nabeela Farida Tunia, the MEA said.

Naidu will also interact with Indian community on Sunday.

“The first-ever visit of Vice President to the two countries is expected to provide a new momentum to our bilateral partnership with these countries,” the MEA said.

The visit is part of India’s Africa outreach policy, it said.

“Our engagement with the African continents has intensified in the last 5 years and covers a large number of sectors,” the statement said.

India has extended concessional lines of credit to Sierra Leone worth USD 123 million for in sectors such as agriculture, water and transmission line.

India has also undertaken grant projects through IBSA fund and provided direct humanitarian assistance to Sierra Leone during the Ebola crisis in 2014 and during floods in 2017.

The vice president will be accompanied by a high-level delegation including Sanjeev Kumar Balyan, Minister of State for Animal Husbandry, Dairy and Fisheries; Ramvichar Netam, Member of Parliament (Rajya Sabha), and senior officials.

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