India has become one of the first nations to accord diplomatic recognition to South Sudan, the world’s youngest country which split away from Khartoum-ruled north after decades of brutal war that claimed nearly two million lives.

The recognition was accorded through a letter by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to South Sudan’s new President General Salva Kiir Mayardit, shortly after he assumed power at the Independence Day function here on Saturday.

“On this historic occasion, the government of India extends formal recognition to the independent state of South Sudan,” the Prime Minister’s letter said.

The letter was handed over to General Mayardit by India’s ambassador to Sudan A.K. Pandey, Secretary (East) in the Ministry of External Affairs Sanjay Singh told reporters.

Officials accompanying Vice President Hamid Ansari, who attended South Sudan’s Independence Day function, said that India would soon be appointing its Ambassador in Juba. At present, India has a Consul General here.

A colourful ceremony, which marked the historic occasion -- the birth of a new nation, was attended among others by Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir and UN chief Ban Ki-moon.

South Sudan would hence be the 193rd country to be recognised by the UN and the 54th member state from Africa.

Earlier on Friday, Sudan extended official recognition to South Sudan, calling it an independent state.

Before attending the independence day celebration here on Saturday, Mr. Ansari held wide-ranging talks with Ugandan President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni.

They discussed piracy emanating from Somalia and agreed that the menace on the high seas should be dealt with in a multi-pronged manner

During their 45-minute talks, the two sides felt that assistance should be directed to Somalian authorities to deal with piracy, the Secretary (East) said.

The two leaders also discussed the situation in Libya and agreed with the view and efforts of the African Union that the conflict there should be resolved through dialogue, Mr. Singh said.

The situation in India’s neighbourhood, including Afghanistan, also figured prominently during the parleys.

Besides, the two sides discussed issues relating to Indian investment in Uganda which is to the tune of over a billion dollar now, Indian High Commissioner to Uganda S Ray said.

The Indian side conveyed to Kampala that Indian corporate sector was keen on investing in the region and last year itself people of Indian-origin in Uganda and other Indians had invested nearly USD 300 million.

Issues relating to trade and investment in industry, technology, agriculture, including tea and dairy sectors, besides those in the fields of education, human resource development and capacity building also figured during the talks.

Indian investment in oil sector in Uganda also came up for discussion during Ansari’s talks with the Ugandan President on Friday, Mr. Ray said.

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