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Senegal shoulder to snub Pakistan

New Delhi, Oct. 13: India has sought “liberal” Senegal’s cooperation to counter anti-Indian resolutions initiated by Pakistan at the Organisation of Islamic Conference (OIC) and change the outfit into a more democratic one, focusing more on problems afflicting the Muslim and Arab worlds.

The OIC summit is scheduled to be held in Kuala Lumpur between October 17 and 18, where, among others, Islamabad is expected to take the lead in passing resolutions against Delhi for persecution of Muslims in Kashmir and Gujarat.

The issue came up for discussion between Senegalese President Abdoulaye Wade and the Indian leadership, including Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee and foreign minister Yashwant Sinha. President A.P.J. Abdul Kalam hosted a banquet in Wade’s honour this evening, while Vajpayee organised a lunch for him.

Wade, a known liberal and democrat, is being seen as one of the emerging leaders in Africa and his first-ever visit to India shows that both sides are keen to strengthen bilateral relations.

India is Senegal’s second-largest export destination after France, and Wade is keen to get Delhi’s cooperation in the field of information technology. In fact, he is one of the main initiators of the proposed “Digital Solidarity” to bridge the divide between the developing and the developed world.

The Senegalese President has also suggested setting up a fund for the purpose and sees India as one of the key players in Asia and the world to help developing countries become more competitive with the West in the field of IT.

Terming India a role model for Senegal, Wade expressed great admiration for India’s ability to achieve self-sufficiency in production of foodgrain, industrial and technological progress, the growth of its economy and emergence as a “big power”.

Wade also addressed a meeting attended by leading Indian industrialists and businessmen during the day and sought their help for joint ventures and investment in Senegal.

But Senegal’s importance for India lies in it being a strong contender for the chairmanship of the OIC and its plans to hold the summit in Dakar in 2006. Wade is scheduled to leave India for the Malaysian capital later this week.

The US and some of its allies have been trying to bring about a split in the OIC by asking some of the more liberal and moderate members to raise the issue of democracy or the lack of it in many Islamic countries.

The move is an attempt to diffuse anti-US resolutions that are likely to come up at the summit for Washington’s role in Iraq and its failure to force Israel to end its occupation of Palestinian land.

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