He termed capacity building as an important pillar of India’s partnership with Africa

India accords top priority to deepening ties with Africa, Vice President M Venkaiah Naidu said on Tuesday after he arrived in Gabon as part of a three-nation visit.

Vice President Naidu called for stepping up bilateral cooperation in green energy, services, health and agriculture among other sectors.

He arrived arrived in Gabon on Monday on the first leg of his three-nation tour which also includes Senegal and Qatar.

The Vice President led delegation level talks with Gabonese Prime Minister Rose Christiane Ossouka Raponda on a host of issues of common interest to both countries and sought to deepen the bilateral relations, the Vice President's Secretariat said.

Two MoUs were signed: establishment of a Joint Commission between the Governments of India and Gabon, and an MoU between the diplomats’ training institutes, Sushma Swaraj Institute of Foreign Services and Gabonese Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

During his interactions with the Gabonese leadership, the Vice President stressed that India attaches great importance to its relations with Gabon and reiterated the commitment of the Government of India to be Gabon’s reliable partner in its development journey.

“We are ready to work together with Gabon to expand our ambit of cooperation in various spheres to further strengthen and broaden our bilateral, regional and multilateral cooperation,” he said.

Referring to the steady growth of bilateral trade between India and Gabon, which crossed US$ 1 billion in 2021-22 despite the Covid-19 pandemic, Vice President Naidu called for exploring the possibilities of diversifying our trade basket, particularly in the sectors of health and pharmaceuticals, energy, agriculture, Rice, defence, security, etc. He also wanted increased partnership between both the countries in key sectors such as oil & gas, mining, wood processing, defence, solar energy, etc.

Terming capacity building as an important pillar of India’s partnership with Africa, the Vice President announced the Indian government’s approval for a special training programme for the next batch of 20 Gabonese diplomats.

During the visit, Naidu held a bilateral meeting with the Foreign Minister of Gabon Michael Moussa Adamo and then met the President of Gabon Ali Bongo Ondimba.

Naidu also attended a reception hosted by the Indian community in Libreville.

Even though the Indian community in Gabon is relatively small in numbers, the Vice President lauded their valuable contribution to Gabonese economy and conveyed his appreciation to the Gabonese Government for taking good care of Indian nationals.

Vice President Naidu is accompanied by Minister of State for Health & Family Welfare Bharati Pravin Pawar and Members of Parliament Sushil Kumar Modi, Vijay Pal Singh Tomar, P Ravindranath and senior officials from the Vice President’s Secretariat and the Ministry of External Affairs.