India greets South Sudan

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By OUR SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT
  • Published 10.07.11
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New Delhi, July 9: South Sudan today became the world’s newest country and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh greeted the people and government of the 193rd country in the world for their independence.

India, one of the first to recognise the new nation, has persistently wooed the oil and mineral-rich South Sudan for the past few years.

In a January referendum, nearly 99 per cent of the predominantly Christian South Sudan voted for secession from the Muslim-dominated north — splitting Africa’s largest country in two. The separation came after 30 years of a bloody civil war and concluded an internationally mediated settlement inked between the two sides in 2005.

New Delhi started inviting South Sudan officials and politicians to India for training and exchange programmes from 2006 onwards. India was also one of the first Asian countries to open a consulate in Juba, the capital of South Sudan, in 2007. It has, however, continued its good relations with Sudan as well.

Indian Vice-President Hamid Ansari was today in Juba as India’s representative to attend its independence day celebrations.

In a letter to its President, General Salva Kiir Mayardit, Singh applauded the new nation’s commitment to addressing all outstanding issues with Sudan, which lies to its north, in a peaceful manner.

“India stands ready to share its development experience and extend whatever assistance possible to South Sudan. I am confident that our co-operation will grow from strength to strength in the coming days for the mutual benefit of our two peoples,” said the Prime Minister.

Minister of state for external affairs E. Ahamed led a multi-disciplinary delegation to Juba in mid-June.

South Sudan’s foreign minister Priscilla Kuch visited New Delhi in April this year.

The new country, one of the poorest in the world, is oil rich. Foreign ministry officials said New Delhi has keen interest in increasing its investments in the oil fields in South Sudan, which now owns over two-thirds of the erstwhile united Sudan’s oil fields.

In return, India will assist the new country with infrastructure development, training of its officials and health, education and rural development. “We have compiled a definite road map using which India can help South Sudan,” said an foreign ministry official.