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Transcript of Media Briefing by Secretary (OIA) and Press Secretary to the President, onboard Special Flight enroute Addid Ababa to Delhi (October 06, 2017)

October 06, 2017

Secretary (CPV & OIA): Thank you all. From October 3 to October 6, Hon’ble President Shri Ramnath Kovind Ji visited Djibouti and Ethiopia on state visits. Both these visits have turned out very substantive outcomes. In Djibouti the Hon’ble President had discussions with his counterpart President Guelleh and some of the outcomes include, we have signed formally an understanding on foreign office consultations whereby regular consultations will be held between the two foreign offices. Besides that there was a broad agreement on fighting terrorism, which is a global menace. There was also agreement on full participation in because Djibouti is a founder member of the International Solar Alliance. They already signed and they have in-principle accepted to come to India for Solar Alliance Summit in December 2017.

Besides that we also have agreed to strengthen the economic relations. Indian Technical and Economic Cooperation as also more bilateral exchange. This is primarily what happened in Djibouti.

In Ethiopia, the Hon’ble President of Ethiopia, he came to see Hon’ble President Kovind to the airport. He also came to see him off which is a very special gesture. Bilateral discussions were very warm, very cordial and very substantive. Two agreements were signed in the presence of both the Presidents. First one on strengthening the trade relations. As you know with Ethiopia we have a very strong engagement on the economic and trade front. So this particular agreement will further strengthen the cooperation. There is a provision of a Joint Committee which will review regularly the matters that are of interest to us as well as to Ethiopia.

Second agreement was on ICT cooperation. Besides that we also announced LoC of 195 million USD for electricity transmission. Hon’ble President also on this occasion gifted 1000 quintal of rice. Also in continuation with our cooperation in education sector, one hundred thousand books were also donated on the occasion and besides that medicines worth USD 2 million were also gifted.

The overall atmosphere was not only cordial but there was a strong desire on the part of both the countries to really go ahead in a stronger manner particularly on economic and commercial side considering that we already have a fairly strong engagement. Thank you.

Question: In Djibouti what kind of discussion happened on terrorism and how both countries will go further to strengthen the fight against terrorism?

Secretary (CPV & OIA): As you know both India and Djibouti both are having their own fights against terrorism. Djibouti particularly is a frontline state in the fight against terrorism. They have along with us agreed to fight the terrorism and they also requested for Indian expertise in this regard.

Question: Can you give us light on the specific maritime security and Somalia issues are on discussion?

Secretary (CPV & OIA): These were not part of the discussion but overall security in the region. The Djiboutian President as well as Prime Minister briefed Hon’ble President on regional situation involving challenges for Djibouti.

Question: Some Indian businesses have invested in Ethiopia. Nowadays there is news that the assets can be nationalized. Does these things came into discussion?

Secretary (CPV & OIA): The concerns of Indian business persons, if any, they were voiced and Ethiopian side has said they will certainly (look into it), they assured us fully that they will take care of the interests of Indian business persons equally.

Press Secretary: As Secretary said between October 3 to 6 President Ramnath Kovind undertook his first overseas visit after becoming President of India. He went on state visit to Djibouti and Ethiopia. There are three factors to this visit which have left us satisfied.

First the President was very keen that his first visit be to Africa which is the region that is very important for Indian Foreign Policy and is also emotionally close to Indians because of its long association with Mahatma Gandhi with Africa.

He was also keen that his first visit be some sort of breakthrough or a milestone that was achieved because it was the first time an Indian President was visiting Djibouti and it was a first visit by an Indian President to Ethiopia in 45 years. So in both countries a gap was filled.

Second President has maintained a very taxing and business like schedule for the last few days that he had been President. He continued that pace in both Djibouti and Ethiopia. His schedule was packed from morning to evening. Bilateral meetings, delegation level meetings with Prime Minister and President of both countries, community events, business and university events. He is quite satisfied that he could retain that schedule and all the meetings were successful.

Finally, in both countries he had an interaction with the local Indian community. This left him both satisfied and very moved because the Indian community in Djibouti has been there for over a hundred years, in fact President interacted with members of some families who have been there for hundred and twenty years. Even though we don’t have formal embassy on the grounds in Djibouti, these families came as traders and more recently as professionals to get the flag flying.

In Ethiopia President noted that Indians came as school teachers 50 years ago and not to Addis Ababa, the capital but remote parts of Ethiopia bringing a lot of goodwill for themselves and for India as a matter for fact it is really the efforts of members of community in those countries that helped our government to have formal establishments.

The President was happy to meet the Indian community and to show them that the government of our country are proud of them. He did refer to Operation Rahat which took place in 2015 which involved rescue and evacuation of Indian nationals from Yemen which is in the region. He did know that Operation Rahat was conducted with logistical support from Djibouti and that was another factor that came up and the fact that the government stands for its nationals.

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