Monday, September 21, 2009

Statement to the Press by EAM(EXTERNAL AFFAIRS MINISTER)

Ladies and Gentlemen,

I begin by expressing my great happiness at being in Belarus. My visit to Belarus is the first visit that I have undertaken within the CIS region since I assumed charge of the post of the External Affairs Minister of India after the formation of our new Government in May 2009. This is an indication of the importance that I attach to Belarus and to our bilateral relationship.

2. My visit has been an extremely fulfilling one. I have had an in-depth exchange of views with my esteemed counterpart, His Excellency Mr. Sergei Martynov, Foreign Minister of Belarus. We have discussed the whole gamut of bilateral, relations and global issues. India and Belarus enjoy closer political ties, multifaceted cooperation in various sectors including science and technology and have a growing trade relationship. I am happy to say that our bilateral talks today have revisited many areas of our bilateral cooperation and have looked at more avenues for an enhanced cooperation in the time ahead.

3. The Digital Learning Centre that India is setting up at the High Technology Park in Minsk typifies the sort of cooperation that we envisage for the future – advanced computing skills will be taught to young Belarusians, initially by Indian faculty members and thereafter by Belarusian professionals trained in India. Today, we have signed an Agreement on Cooperation in Physical Training and Sports, which should give a boost to the sports communities of both our countries.

4. Indian company Bharat Heavy Electricals Limited (BHEL) has been awarded a contract worth US$ 56 million for supply of equipment and provision of technical supervision for installation of 120 MW Grodno-II Combined Heat and Power Plant. The contract for the project has also been signed today. India has offered a Line of Credit for the project. I may say that it is a good beginning to mutual advantage.

5. I will be calling on H.E. President Lukashenko later today and will be departing from Belarus thereafter. I venture to state that this visit has served to consolidate the India-Belarus bilateral relationship, to bring us closer together and to further our cooperation in a very concrete manner to our mutual benefit. It has been personally a very satisfying visit for me as well and I have invited H.E. Mr. Martynov to visit India at an early date.

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