President Patil arrives in South Africa for week-long visit

   May 1, 8:45 pm

Pretoria (South Africa), May 1 (ANI): President Pratibha Patil arrived in South Africa on Tuesday on the second leg of her nine-day tour, which is expected to give further impetus to India's close and friendly ties with the rainbow nation.

Patil, who arrived in Pretoria after concluding her three-day visit to Seychelles, was received at the airport by South African Foreign Minister Nkoana Mashabane.

Earlier, she was seen off at the airport in Seychelles by President James Michel and other members of his Cabinet.

Patil would be in South Africa for a week. She will meet her South African counterpart Jacob Zuma in Pretoria and hold talks with him on bilateral, regional and international issues of mutual interests.

Her visit to the rainbow nation, a term coined by Archbishop Desmond Tutu to describe post-apartheid South Africa after this country's first fully democratic election in 1994, is another indication of New Delhi's growing ties with Pretoria.

A business delegation is also accompanying Patil, who will address the India-South Africa Business Forum meet.

Trade between India and South Africa was pegged at over USD 11 billion in 2010-11. The trade turnover target has been revised to USD 15 billion by 2014.

Main items of exports from India to South Africa are mineral fuel, mineral oil, engineering goods, textiles, gems and jewellery, chemicals and drugs and pharmaceuticals. Gold forms an important part of India's import.

In South Africa, the President will visit places associated with Mahatma Gandhi, including the Pietermaritzburg Station where he was thrown out of a first class compartment of a train during the apartheid regime.

Patil will also meet representatives of Gandhi Communities in South Africa.

In Johannesburg, she will visit the Number Four Prison where Gandhi was incarcerated by the apartheid regime.

She will also unveil a bust of the Father of the Nation at the Constitution Hill.

In Durban, Patil will visit the Phoenix Settlement and offer floral tributes at the bust of Gandhi.

The President is expected to visit Robben Island where South African anti-apartheid struggle hero Nelson Mandela had been imprisoned in Cell Number Five.

Among the members of the delegation accompanying the President are Union Minister Sachin Pilot and MPs Prabha Thakur and Sanjay Shamrao Dhotre. (ANI)

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