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India, S Africa to hold joint naval exercise


Prime Minister Manmohan Singh shakes hands with South Africas President Jacob Zuma during a bilateral meeting in Sanya on Thursday. Photo: PTI

SANYA (PTI): India and South Africa on Thursday decided to hold joint Naval exercises and fixed a new trade target of USD 15 billion to be achieved by next year as Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and President Jacob Zuma met here and discussed ways to boost overall ties.

During the 45-minute meeting on the sidelines of the BRICS Summit, Zuma also informed Singh about his government's intention to invite President Pratibha Patil and Congress chief Sonia Gandhi to his country.

The two leaders discussed a number of issues including bilateral defence and economic ties, UN reforms and developments in Libya and Ivory Coast, Secretary (Economic Relations) in the External Affairs Ministry Manbir Singh told reporters here.

Talking about the defence ties, the two leaders felt that these could be further strengthened, Manbir Singh said.

In this context, it was decided that the two countries would hold Naval exercises, the second such joint manoeuvres.

While taking stock of the trade ties, the two leaders expressed satisfaction over the progress made.

It was noted that the two countries were well on way to achieve the trade target of USD 12 billion by next year and it was hence revised to USD 15 billion, Manbir Singh said.

Zuma said an invitation would be extended to the Indian President to visit South Africa next year. South Africa also intends to invite Gandhi to attend the centenary celebrations of the African National Congress, the Secretary said, adding the Prime Minister said the Indian government would be responding appropriately.

During the meeting, Singh and Zuma also talked about the developments in Libya and Ivory Coast. The South African President told Singh about the African Union's initiation to address the Libyan crisis by setting up a dialogue.

They also talked about UN reforms and how the two countries could coordinate to achieve it.

The two leaders discussed the India-Brazil-South Africa (IBSA) process and how it could be strengthened.

The IBSA process was also discussed when Singh had a bilateral meeting with Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff, with both feeling the need for forging closer cooperation among the scientific communities of the three countries.

During the meeting, the two leaders felt that bilateral trade, which was to the tune of USD 8 billion, was quite low and efforts needed to be made to step it up.

In this regard, Rousseff suggested setting up of joint ventures, particularly in the fields of information and hi-tech.

The Prime Minister suggested that the CEOs Forum may be re-activated.

They also discussed reform of the UN and the International Monetary processes and agreed to convene a meeting of finance experts of the two countries.

The fourth annual BRICS summit will be held in India next year. The proposal was made by Prime Minister Singh which was readily accepted by other members.

The first BRIC summit was held in Russia in 2009 and the second was held in 2010 in Brasilia.

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India  S Africa  defence  navy  

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