Vice President Ansari arrives in Mali, several agreements on card

| Updated: Sep 30, 2016 05:06 IST

By Amit Shankar Bamako [Mali], Sept. 29 (ANI): Carrying forward Prime Minister Narendra Modi-led government's initiative to engage with all regions of Africa, Vice President Mohammed Hamid Ansari on Thursday arrived in Mali on a two-day visit after his successful trip to Nigeria. Malian Prime Minister Modibo Keita received and welcomed the Vice President at Bamako's Modibo Keita International Airport here. Vice President Ansari, accompanied by his wife Salma Ansari, is visiting Mali at the invitation of Prime Minister Keita. Vice President Ansari is accompanied by Minister of State for Finance Arjun Ram Meghwal and a four Members of Parliament, senior officials and media. During this visit, Vice President Ansari will be meeting Malian President Ibrahim Boubacar Keïta and Vice President and would also address the National Assembly of the Republic of Mali, said External Affairs Ministry spokesperson Vikas Swarup during a media briefing. The Vice President will be meeting Prime Minister Keita, which will be followed by delegation-level talks during which several agreements will be signed between both sides. India and Mali enjoy warm and friendly relations the Vice President's visit would be first ever high-level visit to Mali from India. The Malian President, accompanied by a powerful delegation, had participated in the third India-Africa Forum Summit held in New Delhi in October 2015, said Swarup. Stating that India has been a steadfast partner in Mali's reconstruction efforts, development and growth, he added, "India has extended seven LoCs amounting to US $ 353.60 million to Mali. Five of 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 US $ 150 million for power transmission is in final stages of processing." India and Mali bilateral trade has shown almost trebled in last five years and amounted to US $ 350.72 million in 2015-16. The Vice President's visit intends to further strengthen the relationship between the two countries and explore new areas of cooperation to expand and diversify the bilateral relationship. In Abuja, India and Nigeria signed one Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) on Bureau of Standards and four Letters of Intent related to the health sector, transfer of prisoners, renewable energies and customs, said Economic Relations Secretary Amar Sinha. "There was only one MOU signed, which was between our Bureau of Standards and Nigerian Standard Organisation, but we did sign because there were number of MOUs that were at very advanced stages of consideration, but they could not be finalised in time because of certain difficulties like understanding procedural delays, or even interpretation. So, what we did is we signed letters of intent outlining four MOUs which we would work towards, one - Cooperation in health sector, two - Transfer of sentenced prisoners, three - Renewable energies and four - Customs cooperation," he said. (ANI)