India, South Africa announce 3-year strategic programme to boost ties in key sectors

New Delhi, Jan 25 (PTI) India and South Africa Friday announced a three-year strategic programme to expand ties in several key areas such as defence, maritime security and trade and investment after Prime Minister Narendra Modi held extensive talks with South African President Cyril Ramaphosa.In his media statement, Modi said both sides discussed all aspects of the bilateral ties with an aim to further expand cooperation in diverse areas.The 'strategic programme of cooperation' is aimed at deepening the bilateral engagement and ensuring that a "result oriented" partnership benefits people of both the countries. The South African president, who arrived here on Friday morning on a two-day visit, will be chief guest at the Republic Day celebrations on Saturday.Calling India a "strategic partner" of South Africa, Ramaphosa said he was "most honoured" to have been invited for the Republic Day celebrations. "We reviewed the existing cordial bilateral relations between South Africa and India as encapsulated in strategic partnership, as well as the close cooperation at a number of multilateral groupings that our two countries belong to, where we work closely with one another," Ramaphosa said in his media statement with Modi by his side. The two countries are a part of BRICS, IBSA (India, Brazil, South Africa) Dialogue Forum, Indian Ocean Rim Association (IORA) and G20. The South African president listed agro-processing, defence procurement and mining equipment and technology as the future areas of cooperation and said the two countries want to work together in these sectors. On his part, Modi said the economic relations between the two sides are burgeoning and the bilateral trade stands at more than USD 10 billion. India is the second largest trading partner of South Africa. This time South Africa participated in the Vibrant Gujarat as a partner country and Indian companies are taking part in the efforts to boost investment efforts by President Ramaphosa, the prime minister said. He said the two countries have strong cooperation and coordination at several international fora, including the BRICS, G20 and IORA and the United Nations Security Council. South Africa is currently one of the 10 non-permanent members of the UNSC. Modi said India and South Africa stand at crucial locations in the Indian Ocean and the two countries are inheritors of the legacy of Mahatma Gandhi and Nelson Mandela. Speaking about the three-year 'Strategic Programme of Cooperation', Ramaphosa said, "In order to ensure concrete deliverables, we concluded a three years Strategic Programme of Cooperation aimed at deepening the bilateral engagement between India and South Africa and ensuring that a result oriented partnership benefits people of both countries." Officials said the strategic programme will facilitate expansion of ties in several key areas such as defence, maritime security and trade and investment. Ramaphosa said the two sides have instructed their ministers and officials to start implementation of the programme with immediate effect. Modi said India and South Africa are partners in skill development efforts and a 'Skills Institute' will soon be established in Pretoria. PTI PR MPB RCJ