'Africa indispensable for India's energy security' | india | Hindustan Times
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'Africa indispensable for India's energy security'

Besides the energy sector, NAM should be resurrected to strengthen Afro-Asian solidarity, says Mani Shankar Aiyar.

india Updated: May 25, 2006 14:35 IST

Africa is indispensable for India's energy security and the Non-Aligned Movement should be resurrected to strengthen Afro-Asian solidarity, says Minister of Panchayati Raj, Youth Affairs and Sports Mani Shankar Aiyar.

"In the quest for India's energy security, Africa is an indispensable continent," Aiyar told African heads of missions, academics and Africa enthusiasts on Wednesday evening.

Aiyar was delivering the fourth "Africa Day Lecture," organized by the Indian Council of World Affairs, at Sapru House.

Making a strong pitch for taking India-Africa relations to a new level, Aiyar also underlined the need for India to start Track II initiative and for sending a special envoy" to African countries to inject new life into an old relationship, bound by shared struggle against colonialism, imperialism and apartheid.

"We don't have Track II mechanism with African countries. We need Track II to revitalize our relations with Africa," Aiyar said.

Track II diplomacy refers to informal consultations at the highest level to resolve complex issues between the two countries and to take relations to a new level, as is the case with the Track II initiative between India and Pakistan.

In a throwback to the heady days of Afro-Asian solidarity during the time of former prime ministers Jawaharlal Nehru and Indira Gandhi, Aiyar conjured a vibrant future of the NAM. "NAM should be resurrected as a forum of solidarity for Asia, Africa and Latin America to bring about a world of their choice," he said.

"India and Africa should stay united in the NAM," Aiyar, a former diplomat, said as he urged Asian countries to join hands to spur "African resurgence."

Aiyar's remarks are seen as a crucial pointer to renewed Indian efforts to revitalize NAM at the forthcoming summit to be held in Havana in September later this year.

Abdalmahmood Abdalhaleem Mohammmad, Dean of African Diplomatic Corps and Sudan's ambassador of India, urged India and Africa to join hands and "face together the agenda of the new millennium."

"Indo-African cooperation is central to Africa taking its rightful place in the world," he said.