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  India   India seeks to better South Africa defence ties

India seeks to better South Africa defence ties

PTI | FAKIR HASSEN
Published : Jul 9, 2016, 2:45 am IST
Updated : Jul 9, 2016, 2:45 am IST

Showing India as an attractive destination for defence production, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Friday sought deeper collaboration in the sector with South Africa, a major arms exporter, even as he

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Showing India as an attractive destination for defence production, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Friday sought deeper collaboration in the sector with South Africa, a major arms exporter, even as he thanked it for supporting India’s bid for membership of Nuclear Suppliers Group.

On the second leg of a four-nation African tour, Mr Modi held wide-ranging talks with South African President Jacob Zuma during which both sides decided to ramp up their traditional ties by boosting trade and investment ties, especially in manufacturing, mining, renewable energy and pharma sectors.

“I thanked the President for South Africa’s support to India’s membership (bid) of the Nuclear Suppliers Group. We know that we can count on the active support of our friends, like South Africa,” Mr Modi said at a joint media interaction with Zuma after the talks.

A joint statement said Prime Minister Modi reiterated India’s commitment to comply with NSG guidelines and continued commitment to non-proliferation and disarmament.

There were reports that South Africa was among countries which had reservations about India’s bid to join the 48-nation grouping when the issue came up for discussion at its plenary meeting in Seoul last month.

In the talks, the two countries also agreed to bolster defence and security cooperation and vowed to cooperate “actively” in dealing with terrorism, besides working closely at multilateral fora. After the talks, a total of four agreements were inked to expand ties in areas of information technology, arts and culture, tourism and science and technology. Pitching for taking already close bilateral ties to new heights, both Mr Modi and Mr Zuma paid glowing tribute to “two liberation icons” — Nelson Mandela and Mahatma Gandhi. “For me personally, this visit is an opportunity to pay homage to two of the greatest human souls to have ever walked this Earth — Mahatma Gandhi and Nelson Mandela,” he said.

He further said, “We stood together in our common fight against racial subjugation and colonialism. It was in South Africa that Gandhi found his true calling. He belongs as much to India as to South Africa.”

About opportunities in the defence sector, Mr Modi said both countries can join hands in not only meeting needs of each other but also to respond to regional and global demand.

Mr Zuma welcomed the relaxation of FDI rules through the lifting of the caps on foreign direct investment in nine sectors of the Indian economy including the defence, food retail and aviation, indicating that the announcement will have a major impact of attracting FDI in these areas from South Africa.

“Beyond economic ties, and links of business, trade and investment, we can also partner in the field of defence and security. Both, at the level of industry and for our strategic and security needs,” Mr Modi said.

He said defence sector in India is one of the sectors witnessing a complete transformation and that it offers exciting opportunities.

“Our companies can also pool their capacities to jointly develop or manufacture defence equipments and platforms. And, not just to meet our defence needs, but also to respond to regional and global demand,” he said.

Location: South Africa, Gauteng, Pretoria