September 7, 1998
PM's Statement to the Press on Arrival in New Delhi
I visited Oman, Namibia and Mauritius for bilateral visits, and attended the NAM Summit in Durban.
Oman was my first bilateral visit since assuming office. This underlines the importance we attach to our relations with it. My talks with His Majesty were very friendly. We discussed bilateral, regional, and international issues. He expressed full understanding of the recent developments in our region. Both of us agreed that the two joint venture projects, one in India and the other in Oman, should be vigorously pursued, and new avenues should be explored for enhancing bilateral cooperation between India and Oman. His Majesty expressed his deep appreciation at the contribution of the Indian community in the development of Oman. I expressed our sincere appreciation for the fair and hospitable living and working conditions provided to the Indian community by the Government of Oman. I also met a cross-section of the Indian community in Salalah and noted with satisfaction that they enthusiastically support the policies of my Government.
We have close and friendly relations with Namibia, dating back to the days of their freedom struggle, and my visit led to further strengthening of these links. I had detailed discussions with President Sam Nujoma, and Prime Minister Geingob, who reiterated their support for our permanent membership of the expanded UN Security Council, and expressed full understanding for our nuclear tests in May 1998. Dr. Nujoma is a legendary fiture in the liberation movements of Africa and has invested his personal commitment to strengthening Indo-Namibian relations. Agreements on Technical Cooperation, Plastic Technology Demonstration Centre, Agriculture Cooperation, and Foreign Office Consultations signed during the visit will provide fresh impetus to bilateral cooperation. We agreed on the need for enhanced economic and commercial exchanges between the two countries. To facilitate this, we will extend a US $ 5 million EXIM Bank line of credit denominated in rupees. I also announced a gift of 10,000 litres of edible oil and 5 tons of milk powder.
At the NAM Summit in Durban. In my address I reiterated the need for a universal and non-discriminatory Nuclear Weapons Convention increased focus on economic issues and need for closer cooperation between the developing countries, and stressed the imperative of collective action against the menace of terrorism. A large number of countries shared out views on these important issues, and on the need to rejuvenate NAM, while preserving its original outlook and objectives. NAM has a convention of not taking up bilateral issues. Since there was a departure from this, I had to forcefully make it clear that in resolution of India-Pakistan disputes, there was no place for third party involvement. We also welcome the decision to hold an international conference to work out a Nuclear Weapons Convention for the elimination of all nuclear weapons within a time bound frameowrk. I also met a number of leaders of other countries, and had useful discussions with them. There was forward movement during discussions between the Indian and Pakistani delegations. I should refer in particular to my meetings with President Rabbani of Afghanistan and President Khatami of Iran. As is well-known, we are deeply concerned at the situation in Afghanistan, particularly the persistent outside interference in that country. I also met a number of representatives of the Indian community who expressed warm feelings for India and support for the policies of my Government.
Though brief, my visit to Mauritius was a most rewarding experience. Prime Minister Ramgoolam graciously rescheduled his itinerary in Durban and travelled with me to Mauritius. I had wide ranging discussions with him, both during our flight, and in Mauritius. These were most fruitful and productive. Navinji has been a consistent friend of India and our conversation was marked by trust and confidence which are the hallmark of Indo-Mauritius relations. Agreements on Investment Promotion and Protection and on cooperation on Meteorology were signed. We have agreed to make these available for 24 hours, as well as to improve the quality of signal. We also discussed some specific areas of business and economic cooperation and it was agreed that pending issues would he settled at an early date. I addressed a large gathering of the Indian community at the Civic Reception where I was received with great affection and warmth. I look forward to receiving Prime Minister Ramgoolam as our honoured guest in India shortly.