PM’s Statement to Media following delegation level talks with Ethiopia
Following is the text of the Prime Minister, Dr Manmohan Singh’s statement to media at the Joint Press Conference following delegation level talks with Ethiopia at Addis Ababa today.
“This is my first visit to Ethiopia and I am delighted to be in this beautiful country, which is also the diplomatic capital of Africa. I feel extremely privileged to be the first Indian Prime Minister to visit Ethiopia.
I wish to convey my sincere appreciation to Prime Minister Meles Zenawi and the people of Ethiopia for the warm welcome given to me and for the excellent arrangements that have been made for our stay.
We have earlier today concluded a very successful Africa India Forum Summit. I wish to place on record our most grateful thanks to Prime Minister Zenawi for agreeing to host the Summit in Addis Ababa. Thank you very much Mr. Prime Minister.
A short while ago we concluded very productive discussions on our bilateral relations with Ethiopia. As you know, India and Ethiopia have enjoyed historically close links. Ethiopia is an influential member of the world community. Its voice is heard with great respect in Africa. Ethiopia’s economic performance, political stability and democratic polity are examples worthy of emulation by other developing countries.
We are very satisfied with the progress in our relations in recent years. Our talks today have laid a solid foundation for closer political understanding and deepening of our economic exchanges in the coming years.
We have decided to enhance our cooperation in a number of areas. They include sectors such as science & technology, agricultural research, education and information technology. We have concluded agreements in the area of taxation and small and medium enterprises, which will bring benefits to business communities on both sides.
India has tried to assist in Ethiopia's development through capacity building support and offers of lines of credit of more than 700 million US dollars during the last five years. We will further enhance scholarships, training programmes and slots under the Indian Technical and Economic Cooperation Programme for Ethiopia.
I conveyed to the Prime Minister our decision to extend an additional line of credit of 300 million US dollars for a regional integration project as committed to the African Union for a new Ethiopia-Djibouti railway.
We also exchanged views on regional and global issues of common interest. Piracy has emerged as a major threat to international trade and commerce. We would like to coordinate our actions closely with Ethiopia to combat this threat.
We discussed the situation in Africa, the challenges facing this great continent and the importance of India and Ethiopia working together for a better life for our people.
Prime Minister Zenawi was appreciative of our engagement and partnership with Africa under the platform of the Africa India Forum Summit. This is indeed a unique initiative which will benefit both India and Africa. Our relations with Ethiopia serve as a model for this broader partnership.
My visit to Ethiopia has laid a solid foundation for building a closer partnership between our two countries. I look forward to continuing my dialogue with the Prime Minister, for which I have invited him to visit India.
I eagerly look forward to the honour and opportunity of addressing the Members of the Ethiopian Parliament tomorrow.”