Showcasing India as an attractive destination for defence production, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Friday sought deeper collaboration in the sector with South Africa, a major arms exporter, even as he thanked it for supporting India’s bid for membership of Nuclear Suppliers Group.
On the second leg of a four-nation African tour, Modi held wide-ranging talks with South African President Jacob Zuma during which both sides decided to ramp up their traditional ties by boosting trade and investment ties, especially in manufacturing, mining, renewable energy and pharma sectors.
The two countries also agreed to bolster defence and security cooperation and vowed to cooperate “actively” in dealing with terrorism, besides working closely at multilateral fora.
After the talks, a total of four agreements were inked to expand ties in areas of information technology, arts and culture, tourism and science and technology.
“I thanked the President for South Africa’s support to India’s membership (bid) of the Nuclear Suppliers Group. We know that we can count on the active support of our friends, like South Africa,” Modi said at a joint media interaction with Zuma after the talks.
There were reports that South Africa was among countries which had reservations about India’s bid to join the 48-nation grouping when the issue came up for discussion at its plenary meeting in Seoul last month.
Pitching to take already close bilateral ties to new heights, both Modi and Zuma paid glowing tribute to “two liberation icons” — Nelson Mandela and Mahatma Gandhi.
“For me personally, this visit is an opportunity to pay homage to two of the greatest human souls to have ever walked this Earth – Mahatma Gandhi and Nelson Mandela,” Modi said.
He further said, “We stood together in our common fight against racial subjugation and colonialism. It was in South Africa that Gandhi found his true calling. He belongs as much to India as to South Africa.”
About opportunities in the defence sector, Modi said both countries can join hands in not only meeting needs of each other but also to respond to regional and global demand.
“Beyond economic ties, and links of business, trade and investment, we can also partner in the field of defence and security. Both, at the level of industry and for our strategic and security needs,” he said.