New Delhi, Oct. 6: President A.P.J. Abdul Kalam is set to travel abroad for the first time as head of state, cutting short his dream of visiting every state and Union Territory in the country before setting foot on foreign soil.
The President is expected to set out on October 19. The one-week trip will cover Sudan, the UAE and Bulgaria. Low on India’s diplomatic priorities till recently, Sudan has suddenly become an important partner with economic diplomacy assuming significance.
Energy security considerations had prompted the government to conclude an agreement on a significant investment in Sudan’s petroleum sector last year. Kalam’s visit is meant to convey the new-found importance India attaches to ties with Sudan.
An invitation for a presidential visit to the UAE has been pending for a long time. Though the presidential visit is materialising only now, it comes at a time when there are already high-level exchanges between the two countries.
Deputy Prime Minister L.K. Advani was in the Emirates two years ago to seek cooperation in India’s fight against terrorism.
Kalam was slated to visit Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh, Goa, Mizoram and a couple of Union Territories before travelling abroad. “Somehow, the President could not visit these states and Union Territories in the first 14 months of his tenure in Rashtrapati Bhavan,” a source said.
He may not prefer to visit Chhattisgarh now as the state is gearing up for Assembly elections.
The President, however, has been to his home state, Tamil Nadu, four times since assuming the highest office in the country.
But he has not visited his village, where he will go only after “visiting (the) rest of India” and selling his 2020 dream of a developed India among schoolchildren.