New Delhi– External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj on Friday met Democratic Republic of Congo’s Vice Prime Minister and Foreign Affairs and Regional Integration Minister Leonard She Okitundu and discussed ways to strengthen bilateral ties.

“Both sides reviewed the current state of bilateral relations and discussed priority areas for future cooperation,” the External Affairs Ministry said in a statement.

“They expressed satisfaction over the close and friendly relations between the two countries,” it added.

India is a major development aid partner of the central African nation and has extended several lines of credit, including over $350 million for hydro-electric power generation and transmission projects.

Congo is also a major beneficiary of the Indian Technical and Economic Cooperation and Indian Council for Cultural Relations scholarships.

Total bilateral trade stands at $286.41 million, tilted heavily in India’s favour. India’s main exports include pharmaceutical products, vehicles, nuclear reactors, electrical machinery and equipment and cotton.

According to the ministry statement, Sushma Swaraj conveyed India’s continuing support for developmental partnership including Lines of Credit and capacity building in the DRC.

It said that Okitundu “expressed the desire for stepping up cooperation in areas such as mining, education and electoral processes”.

The Congolese Vice Prime Minister also thanked India for its contribution of troops to UN peace keeping operations in his country.

India has been increasing its engagement with Africa, including through a series of high-level visits in the last two years. New Delhi hosted the India Africa Forum Summit in October 2015 that drew all 54 African nations.

This year, India hosted the annual meeting of the African Development Bank.

Friday’s meeting was Sushma Swaraj’s fourth such engagement with African nations in two months. Earlier this month, she met her counterpart from Guinea and in October those from Equatorial Guinea and Tunisia. (IANS)

IndUS Business Journal

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