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Indian Vice President M. Venkaiah Naidu paid very significant visits to South American country Paraguay and the Central American country Costa Rica. This was the maiden highest level visits to these two nations from India. The first leg of the visit was to Paraguay from 5 to 7 March. Paraguay was elated to receive the Vice President of India after the establishment of diplomatic relations between the two countries in 1961. Later, Vice President Naidu visited Costa Rica from 7 to 9 March.
The visit of Indian Vice President to the two countries was intended to advance India’s outreach to these important countries in the region. This visit provided an opportunity to give impetus to our bilateral relations in trade and investment, Information Communication Technology, renewable energy including hydel, education, healthcare, space and people to people contacts.
The visits happened at a time when India is attracting world attention as a leading economy and as a leading voice on the world scene. In recent years India has put increased focus on establishing closer relations with smaller American countries, who are looking towards India as the champion of democracy, equality and a country that respects international rules.
Mr. Naidu held multifaceted dialogue with the Paraguayan leaders, which included bilateral, regional and international issues like reform of the United Nations. Issues like terrorism were also raised which found mention in the joint statement with Paraguay. Paraguayan leaders strongly condemned the 14 February terrorist attack on Pulwama
India and Paraguay agreed that terrorism and transnational organized crime constitute a serious threat to world peace and stability. They also stressed the importance of taking firm measures against terrorism and pledged to strengthen multilateral cooperation to combat this scourge including through cooperation against terrorist threats from groups listed in relevant United Nations Security Council Resolutions and working towards early adoption of a U.N. Comprehensive Convention on International Terrorism. In order to have a better understanding of each other’s views on regional and international issues both the countries would continue high level parleys.
Though distance is an inhibitive factor in deepening bilateral economic relations between India and the Central American countries, India and Paraguay enjoy bilateral trade of US $ 379 million. India and Paraguay traditionally share warm and friendly ties. Trade is one of the main drivers of relationship. Bilateral trade has increased almost ten-fold over the last ten years. The last Presidential visit from Paraguay to India was in 2012.
During the visit, Mr Naidu discussed ways and means to further deepen economic relations with the business community of Paraguay. In order to discuss many of the collaborative proposals and strengthen ties between both countries, the vice presidents agreed that Meeting of Consultations between the Foreign Ministries of both countries be held at an early date. The Consultations could explore among other things further institutional linkages to facilitate wide ranging cooperation between the two countries.
The second leg was also the first ever vice presidential visit from India to Costa Rica. The Vice President of Costa Rica had last visited India in 2015. Mr Naidu had an extensive discussion with the Costa Rican President and Vice President on issues of mutual importance. The leaders of India and Costa Rica also deliberated on issues like terrorism and United Nations reform. Significantly the leaders of Costa Rica were supportive of India’s views on UN Security Council expansion.
India and Costa Rica enjoy long-standing relations of friendship and cooperation, which are being strengthened by the growing commercial engagement between the two countries. Bilateral trade between India and Costa Rica is US $ 200 million. Indian exports to Costa Rica total US $ 133 million with auto, motorcycles and pharma figuring among top exports.
After the conclusion of first Vice-President Level visits to two American lands, India is now expected to deepen engagements with them in the economic, political and cultural fields. India and the two American countries need each other’s support in various international fora.
Script: Ranjit Kumar, Strategic Analyst