New Delhi: President Ram Nath Kovind today embarked on a four-day visit to Djibouti and Ethiopia, his first trip abroad since taking office.
During his visit to the two African nations, the president is expected to sign agreements on institutionalisation of foreign office consultation and greater economic cooperation with Ethiopia, Neena Malhotra, Joint Secretary (East and Southern Africa) in the Ministry of External Affairs had said earlier.
Press Secretary to the President Ashok Malik has said that Djibouti is an important Indian Ocean partner country with whom India’s bilateral trade stands at USD 284 million in 2016-17.
“The president is looking forward to the visit. He recognises that the Africa and Indian ocean region are central to Indian foreign policy. That is why this region was chosen as his first foreign visit,” Malik said.
India has extended a line of credit of USD 49 million to Djibouti, mainly for constructing a cement plant. It is a strategically located country just off the Gulf of Aden.
Kovind’s visit will be the first by an Indian president to Ethiopia after 45 years. The last visit was by President V V Giri in 1972.
India’s bilateral trade with Ethiopia in 2016 was nearly USD 1 billion. The country is among the top three foreign investors in Ethiopia with an approved investment of 4 billion dollars.
In both the countries the president will also interact with the members of the Indian community.