African countries seek India’s help in fighting extremists

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Vikas Swarup, MEA spokesperson
Vikas Swarup, MEA spokesperson

The agenda of India’s inclusion in the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) was echoed at the bilateral meetings of the Indian and African foreign ministers, on the second day of the India Africa Forum Summit, held at Indira Gandhi Indoor Stadium.

Earlier in the day, Minister of External Affairs Sushma Swaraj, laid thrust on the issue, and said, “India and Africa can no longer be excluded from their rightful place of the permanent membership of the UN Security Council. How can we expect legitimacy from a governance structure that excludes the entire African continent and a country, which represents one-sixth of humanity?”

The issue was later taken up by the foreign minister of South Africa, Maite Nkoana-Mashabane, who said that, the UNSC has been ineffective in maintaining peace and security in the region. She called for the concerted efforts to discuss the long pending issue, at the 70th session of the UN General Assembly.

The foreign ministers of the participating African countries, Zimbabwe, South Sudan, Malawi, Tunisia, Kenya, Cameroon, Cape Verde, Democratic Republic of Congo, and Ghana, demanded India’s assistance in capacity building, infrastructure development, defence and technology to enhance the contours of the their economic and social development.

On the other hand, besides discussions on the broader economic development of the two nations contributing to each other’s growth, Swaraj sought help from the African countries in rescuing the three Indian hostages held in Libya by, Islamic States (IS) in August this year.

Mbella Mbella, Minister of External Relations of the Republic of Cameroon sought assistance in defence technology to curb the menace of extremist groups. Sanjeev Kohli, Joint Secretary, West Africa, during the press conference, informed that there has been ongoing co-operation in the defence sector, with Nigeria, to fight against Boko Haram, an Islamic extremist group in North Nigeria.

Besides, development of the agriculture sector was recurrently discussed during the deliberation as countries like Malawi, Cape Verde, Ghana, Cameroon and South Sudan demanded India’s aid in this sector. South African foreign minister asserted that Africa is endowed with a variety of natural resources, which should be beneficiated before they are exported. She shed light on the benefits of having vast lands with fertile soil, which could provide for food security in Africa, and India.

Meanwhile, in terms of industrial developments, it was informed that India’s line of credit has been almost 9 billion USD. It came to light that the South Sudanese ministers are making all possible efforts to restart the oil fields of ONGC Videsh Ltd, the overseas arm of state-owned Oil and Natural Gas Corp (ONGC), which were temporarily shut down due to violence in the region.

At the press conference, Vikas Swarup, spokesperson Ministry of External Affairs, informed, ministers from South Sudan, earlier in the day, and  met with the officials of Ministry of Petroleum to discuss about the issue.

Swarup said that, Barnaba Marial Benjamin, Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation Republic of South Sudan demanded India’s assistance in strengthening the agriculture sector, and hydropower resources. He also stated that the two countries are ready to sign three MoUs on foreign office consultations, culture, and development partnership.

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