Sushma Swaraj discusses UNSC reforms, terror with African leaders


New Delhi: The UNSC reforms, terrorism and capacity building across various sectors were among the issues that figured in 12 bilateral meets that External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj had on Wednesday during the India-Africa Forum Summit.

On the third day (Wednesday), of the ongoing 3rd India-Africa Forum Summit (IAFS) here Sushma Swaraj met her counterpart Samura M.W. Kamura of Sierra Leone, Jean Claude Gkosso of Congo, Kane Achalou Boulama of Niger, Mouasa Bedializoun Nebie of Burkina Faso, Natumbo Nandi-Ndaitwah of Namibia, Robert Dussey of Togo, Manuel Dos Ramos of Sao Tome and Principe, Sylvester Grigsby of Liberia, Mankeur Ndiaye of Senegal, Lounceny Fall of Guinea, Ibrahim Ahmed Abdelaziz Ghandour of Sudan, and African Union Commission (AUC) chairperson Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma.

“In the meetings with her (Sushma Swaraj’s) counterparts from Sierra Leone, Liberia and Guinea, the three countries most affected by the Ebola virus, we reiterated our sympathies and solidarity with the people and the governments of the three countries,” Sanjiv Kohli, joint secretary (West Africa) in the ministry of external affairs, said in a media briefing.

He said the foreign ministers of these three countries thanked Sushma Swaraj for the assistance that India had given to fight the epidemic both at the bilateral level and through the UN.

“At the bilateral level, we gave medical supplies directly to these three countries and cash assistance to the UN trust fund. The total (amount of help) was $12.65 million, which we had committed,” Kohli said.

Sierra Leone’s foreign minister also sought permission to open a diplomatic mission in India.

“Sierra Leone is also the chair of C-10, the African Union (AU) group that coordinates on UNSC reforms,” Kohli said.

Kamura briefed Sushma Swaraj on the C-10’s meetings with various other groups.

“He also said that C-10 as a group would probably meet in December before the AU summit in January next year,” Kohli said.

Niger sought India’s assistance in defense capacity building.

“The foreign minister of Niger briefed the external affairs minister on the threats to the region from various militant groups, in particular the Boko Haram,” Kohli said.

“She (Kane Achalou Boulama) wanted India’s assistance in capacity building for their defense forces and we responded positively.”

Apart from defense, the African foreign ministers sought India’s assistance in capacity building in other sectors like agriculture, information technology and communication, small and medium enterprises, teachers’ training, energy and water.

The countries also sought different lines of credit from India for a variety of projects.

Senegal, with which India has a trade to the tune of nearly $1 billion, sought New Delhi’s help in setting up a railway network.

“Special praise was made by the Liberian side of all the women Indian CRPF contingent, which continued to stay out there at the peak of the Ebola outbreak,” Kohli said.

According to him, Liberia’s Sylvester Grigsby told Sushma Swaraj that the Indian women security personnel inspired many Liberian women to join the police and defense forces in that country.

With the western African nation of Togo, India raised the issue of five Indian nationals detained in connection with an alleged piracy case and sought their early release.

AUC Chairperson Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma was accompanied by two other commissioners of the African Union at the meeting.

“External affairs minister thanked them for their support in holding the third IAFS here,” Kohli said.