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Not competing with China, India’s ties with Africa are old: Ansari

Describing India’s ties with African countries as “good”, vice-president Hamid Ansari said on Tuesday that India wants to engage with the region in various areas.

india Updated: May 31, 2016 09:47 IST
Hamid Ansari,India-Africa ties,Diplomacy
Vice-president M Hamid Ansari interacts with the media on board the Special Aircraft while going to Morocco and Tunisia from New Delhi.(PTI Photo)

Describing India’s ties with African countries as “good”, vice-president Hamid Ansari said on Tuesday that India wants to engage with the region in various areas -- including IT, tele-medicine and agriculture.

Interacting withreporters on board his special aircraft en route to the Moroccan capital Rabat, Ansari said, “With Morocco we have substantive relationship due to one product -- phosphate -- which is very important for us. Indian investment is also there in Morocco in this sector.”

He said Morocco has been helpful towards India at the international level.

When asked about the sudden push towards Africa, Ansari said that focus on Africa was always there. He said there was focus on Africa since the time of late president APJ Abdul Kalam.

Every government has laid focus on Africa, he said, adding that the focus was not due to their relationship with China.

“We are not competing with China. We both have different capacities. Our relations (with Africa) are old. We will discover our space in more areas, including IT and tele-medicine,” he said, adding that there is also scope for cooperation in agriculture.

He said Moroccans find Chinese good, but China was not engaging locals. “If we get a foothold in Morocco, we can expand our business (in the region),” he said.

Ansari said India has a presence in Africa’s automobile sector. “It is a promising sector.”

“Sooner or later Bollywood would become interested as (Morocco) is a good place for shooting of movies,” he said.

Ansari, however, said that visits to Morocco have been “too few”.

“There is no specific reason for this,” he added.

Ansari said Morocco is a monarchy of life-long standing but they have learnt to democratise.

Ansari, who will be in Morocco till June 1, will jointly launch the India-Morocco Chamber of Commerce and Industry in Rabat with Moroccan Prime Minister Abdelilah Benkirane.

In the second leg of his tour, Ansari will visit Tunisia fromJune 2-3.

Speaking about the Islamic influence in Tunisia, Ansari said: “The leader of Islamic Party was in New Delhi recently. He is a moderate. He also said that during changing phase you ought to talk to all.”

Ansari said India has good relations with Morocco and Tunisia but trade has dipped lately with the two countries.

“One Indian company is working there but below its installed capacity due to labour trouble, if they can work at 70% capacity the company can start earning profit,” he added.

Asked about the terror threat from the Islamic State (IS), Ansari said the African political view was clear -- they do not want any conflict. “IS rises when law and order machinery collapses,” he said.

Asked about cooperation with both the countries on countering-terrorism, Ansari said, “Intelligence cooperation sharing can’t be talked in public. There are two broader areas -- one exchange of information and secondly issue of cyber security. We are talking on both these areas with both.”

First Published: May 31, 2016 09:47 IST