Modi holds bilateral meetings with 41 visiting African leaders


New Delhi: Prime Minister Narendra Modi called for India and Egypt to work together on reforms to UN Security Council. Also, cooperation in counter-terrorism, agriculture, oil and energy figured in many of his bilateral meetings with 41 visiting African leaders who had come to take part in the India-Africa Forum Summit (IAFS).

Briefing about Modi’s meetings on Thursday with 10 African leaders, including Egyptian President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi, external affairs ministry spokesperson Vikas Swarup said that the Egyptian president had agreed as a goodwill gesture to release two Indian prisoners who had been in jail in Egypt for 16 and 22 years, and they will be extradited to India.

Modi had bilaterals with all visiting heads of state and government. He met with 19 African leaders on Wednesday and had 12 bilaterals on Friday. IAFS, which saw participation from all African countries, including 41 heads of state and government, concluded on Thursday.

In his meeting with Egyptian president on Thursday, Modi thanked him for attending the summit, saying it would have been incomplete without his country.

Modi met Moroccan King Mohammed VI on Thursday and agreed to his suggestion of forming a high-level joint commission. The king invited Modi to visit his country.

There was discussion on UNSC reforms in Modi’s meeting with Namibian President Hage G. Geingob, who held that “powerful countries like India should be in the Security Council”.

Malian President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita invited Modi to visit his country and offered to take him to Timbuktu, which he said was a heritage site which terrorists had threatened to blow up.

Modi invited Mauritanian President Ould Adbel Aziz to join the solar alliance that he proposes to launch during the meeting on climate change in Paris later this year. Aziz said his country was rich in copper, oil, iron, and gold and said they will open an embassy in Delhi to boost relations between two countries.

Ethiopian Prime Minister Hailemariam Dessalegn said India can take advantage of arable land in his country for growing pulses and oil-seeds.

Modi and Angolan Vice President Manuel Domingos Vicente discussed cooperation in the oil sector. Referring to presence of diamonds in Angola, Modi said that India largely sourced diamonds for its industry from third parties and it will be a win-win situation for both countries if it gets access to them directly.

Tanzanian Vice President Mohamed Gharib Bilal sought India’s assistance for construction of a rail line.

Somalian President Hassan Sheikh Mohamoud sought India’s assistance in the energy sector.

Modi invited Comoros’ President Ikililou Dhoinine to join the proposed solar alliance.

In his meeting with Sisi, Modi and he also discussed the situation in the Middle East and the need for more active cooperation in “counter-terrorism”. It was Modi’s second meeting with the Egyptian president in two months. Sisi said that though the summit was coinciding with parliamentary polls in Egypt, he made it a point to attend the “very important occasion”.

On Friday, Modi had bilaterals with Sudanese President Omer el Bashir, Liberian President Ellen Sirleaf, Sierra Leone President Ernest Bai Koroma, Madagascar President Hery Rajaonarimampianina, South Sudanese President Salva Kiir Mayardit, Senegalese President Macky Sall, Guinea Bissau President Jose Mario Vaz, Mauritius Prime Minister Anerood Jugnauth, Rwandan Prime Minister Anastase Murekezi, Zambian Vice President Inonge Winaat, Gambian Vice President Aja Isatou Njie Saidy, and Burundian Vice President Gaston Sindimwo.