Press Trust of India
New Delhi, 25 October: Hamid Ansari today left for Lima on the first-ever visit at the Vice Presidential level to mineral-rich Peru and Communist Cuba as part of India’s thrust towards Latin America.
The 8-day official visit will also take Ansari to UK where he will deliver a public lecture at the Oxford Centre for Islamic Studies on the theme “Identity and Citizenship”.
Several agreements including one on setting up of a Joint Commission and another in the area of culture are expected to be signed during the three-day visit to Peru.
The Vice President will reach Lima tomorrow after an overnight halt in Frankfurt. The visit to Lima is significant given the fact that Peru is the sixth largest economy in Latin America and the fastest growing in the region.
India is seeking greater trade and investment with Peru which is rich in minerals and hydrocarbons. Bilateral trade between India and Peru in 2012 was USD 1.68 billion and evenly balanced.
Talks for a Free Trade Agreement with Peru are expected to start soon. India-Peru relations have traditionally been cordial and friendly and Lima is also a member of NAM and G 77.
During his visit to Peru from 26 to 29 October, Mr Ansari will hold a comprehensive dialogue with his counterpart Marisol Espinoza Cruz, first Vice-President of Peru, and meet with foreign minister and minister for foreign trade & tourism. He will also call on President Ollanta Humala.
The Vice-President’s visit coincides with the celebrations of the 50th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between India and Peru.
He will inaugurate the Cultural Festival of India in Lima to commemorate this historic event.
To mark the 50th anniversary of diplomatic relations between India and Peru earlier this year, Peru has issued stamps depicting the Machu Picchu mountains and the Taj Mahal, the wonders of the respective countries.
Despite India and Cuba enjoying deep, enduring and historical relations as founding members of NAM, Ansari’s visit to Havana on 29 and 30 October is the first VVIP visit to the communist country.
In Cuba, Mr Ansari will hold comprehensive bilateral talks with his counterpart Miguel Diaz-Canel Bermudez, first Vice President of Cuba and call on President Raul Castro.
Cuba supports India’s inclusion as a permanent member in the restructured UN Security Council.
Mr Ansari will also inaugurate a Cultural Festival of India in Havana during the visit.
Bilateral relations are characterised by active cooperation in the field of energy, biotechnology and sports. State-owned OVL has an active presence in the Cuban exclusive economic zone.
Mr Ansari will be accompanied by minister of state for human resource development Jitin Prasada, four Members of Parliament and senior officials.