The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Twin visit boost to trade ties

New Delhi, Jan. 3: Trade and investment in the country is likely to get a boost with the visits of the Singapore President and the Mauritius Prime Minister over the next few days.

Singapore is India’s largest trading partner and the largest investor from the Asean group of countries. Mauritius tops the list among foreign investors in India.

Singapore President S. R. Nathan arrived here this evening on an eight-day visit. According to the foreign ministry, Nathan has visited in the backdrop of “excellent bilateral ties” and his visit is expected to impart “greater warmth and understanding in the existing relations”.

“The relations between India and Singapore are characterised by warmth, trust and mutual understanding,” foreign ministry spokesman Navtej Sarna said. The two countries have cooperated in regional and multilateral fora on a range of issues of mutual interest, he added.

Nathan will meet his Indian counterpart, A.P.J. Abdul Kalam, who is hosting a banquet in his honour tomorrow. He is likely to meet other senior leaders as well. Apart from Delhi, Nathan will visit Hyderabad, Bangalore and Chennai to strengthen cooperation in information technology and education.

The Mauritian Prime Minister, Aneerood Jugnauth, will begin a week-long visit from January 5. His visit will focus on further bolstering trade, economic and political ties with India.

Jugnauth, who is coming on Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s invitation, will be the chief guest at the “Pravasi Bharatiya Divas” here on January 9.

Though his main interaction will be with Vajpayee, Jugnauth will also meet Kalam, deputy Prime Minister L.K. Advani, external affairs minister Yashwant Sinha and defence minister George Fernandes.

On January 10, Jugnauth will inaugurate the second conference of parliamentarians of Indian origin.

Jugnauth’s visit after two years will provide another opportunity for both countries to underscore the “special brotherly ties” and consolidate relations at a time when both are entering a new phase of cooperation in high technology, Sarna said.

India has a unique relationship with Mauritius, where people of Indian origin constitute 68 per cent of the population, he said. The countries’ bilateral trade has touched $180 million and both have forged strategic ties in the IT sector.

India has also extended a $100 million credit line to Mauritius for the construction of Ebene Cybercity.

According to Sarna, cooperation between the two countries continues to be intensive in traditional areas such as human resource development.

Mauritius is a major beneficiary of Indian technical and economic cooperation programmes, he said, for Indian companies have invested more than $100 million in various sectors in that country.

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