New Delhi, Sep.19: Acknowledging the growing role of Burundi in the regional affairs of Africa, President Pranab Mukherjee said that Burundi has been actively engaged in achieving peace and stability in Somalia, and ensuring peace in Darfur, Chad and the Central African Republic, and added that India is keen to further develop its engagement with the East African Community (EAC).
Speaking at a banquet hosted at Rashtrapati Bhavan in honour of visiting Burundi President Pierre Nkurunziza on Tuesday night, Mukherjee said: “India values its friendship with Burundi. Your visit to India is an occasion for our governments to meet at the highest level and take up initiatives that will bring our people closer together in mutually beneficial programmes and partnerships.”
He also said that he saw President Nkurunziza’s visit to India as an opportunity to lay the “foundations of a comprehensive co-operation, for sharing resources and expertise, building capacities where you would seek it and reviewing all aspects of our trade and investment potential.”
Acknowledging the significant expansion of the Indo-Burundian bilateral agenda, the president said New Delhi is looking forward to working together with Bujumbura towards realising its full potential.
Mukherjee said that there is great potential to further strengthen bilateral trade and investment between the two countries.
“New areas of economic co-operation and investment are opening up. These need to be pursued systematically to the mutual benefit of our peoples,” he added.
He highlighted India’s developmental experience, particularly in energy, agriculture, infrastructure, minerals and in the development of small scale industries and capacity building, as being ideally suited to generate employment for the youth.
“We believe that this could be of relevance to Burundi’s socio-economic development,” Mukherjee said.
The president said that the Kabu hydro electric project in Burundi is a symbol of India’s commitment to assist Burundi in capacity building and infrastructure development.
“I am pleased that bilateral agreements signed today relate to many of these key sectors – including rural development, health and medicine,” Mukherjee said.
“This is a critical period of your transit from political emancipation to economic development. It coincides with India’s own recalibration and re-vitalisation of its policies towards Africa. We have recently organized two India – Africa Forum Summits, in 2008 and 2011. At these Summits, Government of India has announced several projects in response to specific requirements for accomplishing Africa’s urgent aspirations. These summits have provided a matrix for enhancing India’s relations with African nations including Burundi. Your leadership at the Second Africa-India Forum Summit held in Addis Ababa in May last year as Head of the East African Community was instrumental in its substantive outcome,” he added.
“India is glad to know that the Pan-African e-network project has been found useful by Burundi. We have been happy to assist with training programmes and scholarship schemes for under-graduate and post-graduate studies in agriculture, science and scientific research. We are willing to do more – wherever you require it. I understand that we have further increased the number of scholarships for students from Burundi and agreed to establish educational institutions for capacity building,” Mukherjee said.
“India and Burundi have been working together in various international fora including the United Nations and Non-Aligned Movement. We share a common commitment to pluralism, inclusiveness and creation of an equitable world order. We are confident that you will support our endeavours in the reform of the UN. We welcome your support for our candidature for permanent membership of an expanded UN Security Council,” he added.
He concluded by saying that he had no doubt that bilateral cooperation in the new areas that have been identified during the current visit would bind both countries and their governments us even further in an enduring partnership.(ANI)