Pranab Mukherjee's maiden foreign tour as President is set to include a visit to island-nation Mauritius, with Rashtrapati Bhavan mulling options that could culminate in a ‘meaningful’ itinerary.
Mukherjee has received several invitations ever since he took over as the 13th President in July last year, but he avoided foreign travel in the first eight months of his stint. Mukherjee wants to plan his foreign tour, coinciding with the National Day of Mauritius on March 12.
Top sources in the government also told HT that he may visit Sri Lanka—a key neighbour of New Delhi—during the same tour. Mukherjee is also keen on going to Bangladesh, where he enjoys an excellent rapport with the leadership. However, a section of the government feels he may not be able to improve Indo-Bangla ties substantially at the moment because issues like the Teesta Water Treaty and Land Boundary Agreement are seeing little forward movement.
The high-level visit to Mauritius has been planned at a time when India is pulling out all stops to get Mauritius on board over the much-awaited bilateral Double Tax Avoidance Treaty (DAAT). Mukherjee, as the finance minister, was leading from the front in this effort.
India has been telling Mauritius it is ready to compensate financial losses arising out of the change in treaty. The island-nation, on the other hand, is arguing that financial services are the backbone of its economy and any sudden change could adversely impact its economic structure.
Mukherjee has invitations pending from US President Barak Obama and Russian President Vladimir Putin.