India, Tanzania to cooperate in counter terrorism and gas exploration

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New Delhi: India and Tanzania on Friday agreed to set up a joint working group on counter-terrorism and increase gas exploration cooperation in the east African nation, as Prime Minister Narendra Modi held talks with visiting Tanzanian President Jakaya Mrisho Kikwete.

The two sides also inked eight agreements, including for cooperation in the field of agricultural science, statistics, hydrography and tourism.

Modi, addressing the media after delegation level talks with Kikwete, also thanked Tanzania for its support to India’s candidature for a permanent seat in an expanded UN Security Council.

Modi said India is holding the 3rd India-Africa Forum Summit in October in New Delhi and has for the first time invited all the 54 African countries.

“Tanzania is an important part of India-Africa partnership. President Kikwete co-chaired the First India-Africa Forum Summit in 2008. We look forward to his participation too,” he said.

Modi said that India and Tanzania, which border the Indian Ocean, have a common interest in maritime security in the Indian Ocean and a peaceful and prosperous Africa.

“Terrorism in our respective regions is a concern for both countries. We have agreed to establish a Joint Working Group to strengthen our cooperation in counter-terrorism,” he said.

On the $4 billion bilateral trade, which is heavily skewed in India’s favour, the Prime Minister said that he has urged President Kikwete to open up more sectors for investments and exports.

He said Indian investors are ready to invest more in Tanzania that will support Tanzania’s development and trade.

Modi said he has assured Kikwete that the bilateral development partnership will continue, which is indicated in the bilateral agreements inked on Friday.

On Tanzanian nationals studying in India, the Prime Minister said there are nearly 2,000 Tanzanian students in India.

“I have informed President Kikwete that we will soon extend our e-tourist visa scheme to Tanzania,” he said.

Kikwete, who is on a five-day visit to India, said that on Thursday India and Tanzania launched the first India-Tanzania business forum.

“It was long overdue, but better late than never,” he said.

Kikwete said that he has assured Indian businesspersons that his government is working to improve the investment climate and “we will provide the necessary security”.

The Tanzanian President said he has assured Indians working in his country that the government has changed and there will not be nationalisation of assets.

“I have given the assurance that we have changed, reformed the economic system and are pursuing a market-based economy,” he said, adding that Indians can repatriate their dividends and profits.

He pushed for cooperation in the field of tourism, and in augmenting water supply in his country.

He said Tanzania reaffirms its support for India’s candidature in an expanded UN Security Council, adding “You deserve it”.

“Tanzania will continue to work with African friends for that support,” he said.

Earlier, Kikwete was accorded a ceremonial welcome at Rashtrapati Bhavan. Later, External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj called on him. (IANS)