Embattled Venezuelan President to visit India soon

Visit a year after PM Modi skipped NAM summit.

New Delhi: At a time when India’s ties with the US are going from strength to strength, embattled Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro — the pet hate of the United States — is all set to visit New Delhi for the International Solar Alliance (ISA) meeting in December, diplomatic sources in New Delhi have confirmed. The visit is expected to take place a year after Prime Minister Narendra Modi skipped the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) Summit that took place in Venezuela’s Margarita Island in September last year.

India was represented there instead by the then vice-president Hamid Ansari. While the Indian Government had maintained last year that nothing much should be read into PM Modi’s absence, speculation was rife that this was because of India’s growing proximity to the US which recently described itself as India’s “reliable partner”. Plans for the Venezuelan Presidential visit are being firmed up in New Delhi even as India is set to welcome US secretary of state Rex Tillerson on Tuesday in New Delhi.

“The visit of President Maduro has been more or less finalised. It will be a historic visit. He is eagerly looking forward to visiting India and holding talks with PM Modi,” diplomatic sources in New Delhi told this newspaper.

While Venezuela has realised that Indo-US ties have grown even stronger under the Modi Government, it is keen to build on the traditional solidarity that countries of the developing world have shared with each other. Venezuela is also aware of the important position that India enjoys in the developing world which explains President Maduro’s desire to visit New Delhi. The Venezuelan leadership has also been dwelling on the importance of oil exports from their country to energy-starved India and this is an important factor in ties between the two countries despite New Delhi’s proximity to Washington.

Ties between the Venezuelan leadership and the Trump Administration in the US have hit rock-bottom. The US accuses President Maduro of being a dictator and stifling dissent and democracy.

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