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Tharoor starts official visit to Benin

india Updated: Oct 21, 2009 19:01 IST

IANS
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Minister of State for External Affairs Shashi Tharoor is in West Africa for the second time in a month as he starts a three-day official visit to Benin on Wednesday.

The visit of Tharoor also comes after President of Benin Bon Yayi's successful visit in March this year.

He will have a packed schedule in the capital, Cotonou, where he will be co-chairing the first India-Benin Joint Commission along with Benin Foreign Minister Jean Marie Ehouzou on Wednesday.

Following that, he will address the Benin Chambers of Commerce to advocate closer economic ties. The minister is not only travelling with representatives of state-run rail consultants, RITES and National Small Industries Corp, but a 15-member delegation from Confederation of Indian Industry will also be in Cotonou during the visit.

The March presidential visit showcased the "close convergence of opinions at the highest political level", with Benin wholeheartedly supporting India's bid for a permanent seat in the United Nations Security Council and also for a non-permanent seat for the year 2011-12.

The Indian Prime minister had then announced a grant to $2 million, which Benin is using to get medical equipment, buses and computers.

Besides, India has also extended concessional lines of credit worth $33.8 million for rural electrification, agricultural equipment and to undertake feasibility study for a cyber city.

"Benin has been the recipient of bilateral assistance from India in the form of agricultural equipment, water pumps for irrigation," said an official.

With Benin having joined India's Pan African e-network, Tharoor will be visiting a telemedicine centre. He will also flag off an Indian locomotive to be used by Benin Railways.

Before wrapping up the visit, Tharoor will call on Benin President Yayi.