New Delhi, May 31 (IANS) India and South Africa are set to invigorate bilateral ties and discuss UN reforms when South African President Jacob Zuma comes here on a three-day visit Wednesday, his first trip to India since taking charge of Africa’s most influential country.
Accompanied by a high-profile business delegation and seven cabinet ministers, Zuma starts his visit from Mumbai, the country’s financial hub.
In a gesture of solidarity with 26/11 victims, Zuma and his wife will stay at the iconic Taj Mahal Hotel, which opened an opulent hotel in Cape Town earlier this year.
Zuma, the charismatic leader of the ruling African National Congress, heads to New Delhi for official talks with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh Friday.
Besides focusing on expanding economic cooperation across a swathe of areas, including energy, infrastructure, pharmaceuticals and tourism, the two sides will also discuss a range of global issues like the UN reforms and WTO trade negotiations.
‘These issues would be at the heart of discussions when the two principals (Manmohan Singh and Zuma) meet on June 4,’ the newly-appointed South African High Commissioner, Mbulelo Harris Majeke, told journalists here.
Manmohan Singh and Zuma last met in Brasilia for the India-Brazil-South Africa (IBSA) summit in April.
Zuma was sworn in April 12 last year amid the chanting of a Hindu prayer.
Underlining his special affection for India, Zuma, who has known the Indian leadership across generations, made a special mention at his inauguration ceremony of India’s contribution in ending the pernicious practice of apartheid.
Bilateral trade between India and South Africa has multiplied manifold over the last decade, from $1.3 billion in 2000-01 to $6.27 billion in 2007-08, a growth of 382 percent.
But there is still huge untapped potential. In the days to come, the two countries are set to focus on five key sectors: manufacturing and infrastructure, small and medium industries and skills development, information and communication technology & services, tourism, entertainment and maritime & logistics.