AFTER AFRICA TOUR, KOVIND TO VISIT MAURITIUS, MADAGASCAR
NEW DELHI: After visiting two African countries in October 2017, President Ram Nath Kovind will make his second foreign trip to two Indian Ocean nations, a key focus area of the Prime Minister Narendra Modi-led government, senior government officials familiar with the development said.
The President will visit Mauritius and Madagascar in March, two important countries in the Indian Ocean region, in the midst of evolving political crisis in the Maldives, another key country in the region.
“Kovind will be the chief guest at the event to mark 50 years of Mauritius’ Independence. He will undertake the visit in midMarch. From Mauritius he will visit Madagascar,” one of the officials said.
President Kovind had made his first foreign trip as head of state to the African continent last October.
The central government aims to develop closer ties with the Indian Ocean countries amid China’s growing proximity with the littoral states and India’s own interest in securing the sea lines of communications in the Indian Ocean.
“The choice of Presidential visit also reflects the historical ties with the two countries with sizeable Indian origin population,” said a second official who did not want to be quoted.
In 2015, Modi undertook a fiveday tour of — Seychelles, Mauritius and Sri Lanka—three countries that are located strategically in the Indian Ocean region. During the PM’S visit to Mauritius, the two sides signed five bilateral agreements and India extended a $500 million line of credit.
Madagascar has had close maritime trade links with India since the 18th century.
President Kovind’s visit to the nation is expected to bridge the gap in high level visits between the two countries. When minister of state for finance, Santosh Kumar Gangwar, visited Madagascar in October 2016, it was after 21 years that an Indian minister visited the country.