August 12, 2007

UNSC expansion not complete without Africa: Pranab

New Delhi, Aug. 12 (PTI): India yesterday said the expansion of the United Nations Security Council will not be complete without representation from Africa, including in the permanent category.

Making a strong pitch for including India and Africa in an expanded UN Security Council, External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee said the aims and aspirations of the two sides would be realised with the democratisation of institutions like the UN.

"The aims and aspirations of developing countries like India and those of Africa will not be realised until institutions such as the UN, particularly the UNSC, are democratised," he said delivering the inaugural Dharam Pal Memorial Lecture.

The India-Africa ties is expected to get a boost with India hosting the first summit with the African Union in April next year.

"We expect to hold the India-Africa Forum summit in India in April," Mukherjee said.

India is a dialogue partner of the African Union and will closely follow this evolving and step-by-step process, he said adding New Delhi will support all efforts that will bring sustainable peace, progress and stability in all the countries of Africa.

"A majority of countries of Africa support India's claim to the permanent membership of UNSC. We were touched by the words of a visiting African minister who stated, 'when you are there, we are there'," he said.

"India has made it abundantly clear that the expansion of the UNSC will not be complete without representation from Africa, including in the permanent category," Mukherjee said.

Mukherjee said India also wanted to strengthen cooperation with countries of Africa in the endeavour to jointly defeat international terrorism.

Noting that the bonds that tie India and Africa were civlisational, time-tested and unique, he said "we are now in the process of adjusting these bonds to meet the changing needs of our societies in the face of the faster pace of globalisation.

On the growing trade relations between the two regions, the minister said a framework agreement with the Southern African Customs Union (SACU) for a preferential trade agreement (PTA) was on the anvil.

"The Union cabinet has already approved the draft framework agreement for a PTA with SACU," he said.

He pointed out that India's trade with African countries had increased significantly from 5,493 million dollars in 2001-02 to 11,822 million dollars in 2005-06. It further increased sharply to 18,538 million dollars during April 2006-January 2007.

"Cost-effective and intermediate technologies and our large human capital base gives us a unique advantage in areas of human resource development and capacity building," he said.

Recalling his recent visit to Ethiopia, Mukherjee said India was building a Rs 500-crore Pan African e-network to bridge the digital divide among 53 countries of the continent.

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