Vice President Bhairon Singh Shekhawat left on Sunday on a six-day official visit to Guyana and Trinidad & Tobago that is expected to boost bilateral ties with the two countries that have a large number of people of Indian origin.
Arriving first in the Guyanese capital of Georgetown, the vice president will inaugurate a new cricket stadium that has been constructed with financial assistance from India.
He will meet Guyanese President Bharrat Jagdeo, who is of Indian origin, Prime Minister Samuel Hinds, leader of the opposition Robert Corbin as well as the speaker of the National Assembly.
The vice-president will also inaugurate the Rabindranath Tagore Resource Centre being established by the University of Guyana. It will have books, DVDs and other resource materials on India.
Four bilateral agreements, covering cultural exchanges, diplomatic facilities, academic exchanges and extension of line of credit, will also be signed by the two sides.
On Nov 9, the vice-president will leave for Port-of-Spain, the capital of Trinidad & Tobago.
Shekawat will hold meetings with President George Maxwell Richards, Prime Minister Patrick Manning, the speaker of the House of Representatives, the president of the Senate and the leader of the opposition.
He will sign a bilateral investment promotion and protection agreement with Trinidad & Tobago. Trade between, Indian and Trinidad & Tobago, which is economically the most well off among all Caribbean nations, stood at Rs 1.7 billion in 2005.
While there are over 325,000 ethnic Indians in Guyana, Trinidad & Tobago is home to around 520,000 Indo-Trinidadians. Most of them are descendants of Indians who had gone there in the 19th and early 20th centuries to work as indentured labour.
Shekhawat was seen off at the airport by Lt Governor of Delhi BL Joshi, Minister of State for External Affairs Anand Sharma as well as diplomats from the Guyanese and Trinidad & Tobago missions in Delhi.