Sat, Dec 3, 2016 | updated 01:30 AM IST

Vice President leaves for two-nation official tour of Nigeria, Mali

Updated: Sep 26, 2016 11:10 IST

By Amit Shankar

New Delhi [India], Sept. 26 (ANI): Vice President Mohammed Hamid Ansari today left on a five-day official visit to Nigeria and Mali as part of efforts to bolster New Delhi's ties with both West African nations.

The Vice President, who is accompanied by his wife Salma Ansari and other senior officials, will reach Nigerian capital Abuja later in the day.

In Abuja, he will hold talks with Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari and other leaders besides delivering an address at the National Defence College of Nigeria.

He will also meet the Governor of Lagos and deliver an address at the joint business forum at the University of Lagos.

The Vice President will inaugurate the High Commission of India Chancery complex at Abuja and interact with members of the Indian community both in Abuja and Lagos.

India has shared friendly bilateral partnership with Nigeria and is the country's largest trading partner.

The historic State visit to Nigeria by then prime minister Dr Manmohan Singh in October 2007 after a gap of over forty five years elevated the strategic partnership.

Nigeria is India's largest trading partner in Africa with the bilateral trade amounting to USD 12.6 billion in 2015-16.

India is also the largest buyer of crude oil from Nigeria.

More than 100 Indian companies have a large presence there as well as both the countries have strong defence cooperation.

On the second leg of his trip, the Vice President will reach Mali on September 29 for the first ever high-level visit at the invitation of Prime Minister Modibo Keita.

During his stay, he will meet President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita, Prime Minister Modibo Keita and also address the National Assembly.

The visit to Mali is aimed at boosting the relationship between the two countries and explore new areas of cooperation to expand and diversify bilateral relationship

India and Mali enjoy warm and friendly relations. President of the Republic of Mali, accompanied by his delegation, had participated in the third India Africa Forum Summit held in New Delhi in October 2015.

India has been a steadfast partner in Mali's reconstruction efforts, development and growth. India has extended seven Lines of Credit (LoCs) amounting to USD 353.60 million to Mali.

Five of these LoC projects have been implemented in the areas of agriculture machinery, electrical transmission and distribution and supply of railway coaches and locomotives. A large project of USD 150 million for power transmission is in the final stages of processing.

This visit intends to further strengthen the relationship between the two countries and explore new areas of cooperation to expand and diversify the bilateral relationship. (ANI)