India is stepping up security cooperation with partner countries in Africa in the run up to Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s first visit to the continent.
The July 7-11 visit, which will cover Tanzania, Mozambique, South Africa and Kenya, follows in the wake of the security talks New Delhi has been conducting with these countries.
“I went to Kenya and Tanzania for preparation where maritime and general defence cooperation in terms of capacity building were discussed. My interlocutors [in these countries] raised with me issues like sharing of intelligence, using the Lines of Credit to acquire equipment from India,” Amar Sinha, Secretary (Economic Relations), Ministry of External Affairs, said, underlining that a start in bilateral counter-terror dialogue was made two months ago during the meeting of the India-Tanzania Joint Working Group on Counter Terror.
Indian citizens and members of the diaspora have traditionally faced threats such as coastal piracy in Africa. But the recent attack in Mali, the 2013 Westgate Mall attack in Nairobi, and abductions in Libya point to growing terror threats that can affect India’s interests in the region.
“If you look at the terror map, it is northern Kenya which is most affected. Tanzania and Mozambique are safe. But as President Pranab Mukherjee said in Namibia, no country is really safe,” Mr. Sinha said, explaining that there was a need to exchange information on terror and security related issues that affect both India and African countries.
The India-Tanzania Joint Working Group on Counter Terror was set up last June during the visit of Tanzanian President Jakaya Kikwete which was boosted by the pledge on strategic cooperation in India-Africa Forum Summit. “It’s the responsibility of the host government to secure their own citizens like we would secure any one here. Our cooperation focuses on the need for greater cooperation and need for exchange of information which will enable them to secure their own citizens,”he said.