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Kalam to visit Tanzania, South Africa

By Vinay Kumar

NEW DELHI, SEPT. 10. The President, A.P.J. Abdul Kalam, will leave here tomorrow on a four-day tour of Tanzania and South Africa.

The highlight of the tour will be his interaction with a number of heads of states and leaders at the Pan-African Parliament meeting in South Africa. Mr. Kalam will be the first non-African head of state to interact at the Pan-African Parliament. About 35 to 40 heads of states will be present.

It will also be the first visit by an Indian President to South Africa. He will address the Parliaments of the two nations, official sources said.

The visit is part of the country's continuing ``Focus Africa'' policy. It is expected to help highlight India's traditional and old links with the two countries where a large number of Indians live.

The tour, beginning at Cape Town, will take him to Durban and Johannesburg. Several Memorandums of Understanding in the fields of telecommunication, information technology and heath care are likely to be signed.

Ministers in India

Three South African ministers — Geraldine J Fraser-Moleketi, Ivy Matsepe-Cassuburi and Esap Pahar — who take care of public administration, human resource development, communication and Presidential office respectively — are on a visit here to finalise the agreements to be signed.

The South African President, Thabo Mvuyelwa Mbeki, visited India between October 15 and 19 last year and five major agreements were signed.

These pertained to an extradition treaty, agreement on mutual legal assistance in criminal matters, cultural exchange programme, cooperation in power and hydrocarbons.

Defence offers

In the field of defence, India is examining offers for 155 mm artillery guns from three South African firms. The air forces of both countries have already held joint exercises.

A forum of captains of Indian industry has been launched and industrialist Ratan Tata would lead a delegation to South Africa in October.

Mr. Kalam's visit to South Africa is expected to help concretise the shape of the India-Brazil-South Africa (IBSA) grouping as well as using the tremendous goodwill for the country to serve as a springboard for interaction with the other countries in Africa. Several practical economic projects that could become viable for IBSA could also come up for discussions.

The President's visit to Tanzania would help in cementing Tanzania-India relations that have traditionally been close.

Two key factors — a sizeable Indian population in Tanzania and high levels of bilateral trade — have played a pivotal role in developing the bilateral relations between the two countries. Mr. Kalam will also visit Zanzibar and have talks with his counterpart, Amani Abid Karume.

To meet students

Mr. Kalam will interact with university students and teachers in Tanzania. He is scheduled to visit an Indian school in Dar-es-Salam and another school of special children. His schedule also has a meeting and address at the Nyerere Foundation in the Tanzanian capital. The Foundation has distinguished jurists, diplomats, academicians and intellectuals as its members who would interact with the President.

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