President heads home after wrapping up 2-nation tour

SansadTV Bureau
Auckland: President Pranab Mukherjee shakes hands with John Key, Prime Minister of New Zealand during a signing of agreement on direct flight service between India and New Zealand, in Auckland on Sunday. PTI Photo

Auckland: President Pranab Mukherjee shakes hands with John Key, Prime Minister of New Zealand during a signing of agreement on direct flight service between India and New Zealand, in Auckland on Sunday. PTI Photo

President Pranab Mukherjee has left for India from Auckland after wrapping up a successful six-day visit to Papua New Guinea and New Zealand. President Mukherjee met top leaders of the two countries and inked important deals and as part of India’s ‘Act East’ policy.

Concluding his three-day visit to New Zealand as part of the second leg of his two-nation tour, Mukherjee talked about cooperation in agriculture, dairy, food processing, education and skill development as well as high technology between the two countries.

India and New Zealand also signed a deal that opens the door for direct flights between the two countries with an aim to boost tourism and trade sectors.

On Sunday, President Mukherjee also addressed university students in Auckland.

In his speech, President Mukherjee said it was time for both the nations to enhance their ties, as India presents a “picture of optimism and economic success.”

“Ours is the fastest growing major economy in the world — with an estimated growth rate of 7.6 per cent in the year 2015-16. The World Bank estimates that this will accelerate to 7.8 per cent and 7.9 per cent in the next two years. There are great prospects for New Zealand’s participation in our growth,” the President said.

Mukherjee stressed India and New Zealand have “shared stakes” in a peaceful, cooperative and prosperous Asia-Pacific region.

“We believe that this is a region of huge opportunity — where we can successfully work as partners in promoting security, stability and prosperity. India values her cooperation with New Zealand at the United Nations and other multilateral fora,” he said.

Mukherjee also expressed appreciation for New Zealand’s support for India’s permanent membership in an expanded United Nations Security Council.

Mukherjee’s trip to New Zealand is the first high-level visit from India in 20 years. Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi visited the island nation almost two decades ago.

President Mukherjee met New Zealand Prime Minister John Key and Governor General Sir Jerry Mateparae among others during his three-day tour. He also received a ceremonial reception at Government House in Auckland on Saturday.

Earlier, as part of his two-day maiden state visit to Papua New Guinea, the President sought for freedom of navigation saying sea lanes of communications should be devoid of tension and rivalry.

India and Papua New Guinea strengthened bilateral ties while ensuring energy security among themselves. Both countries signed several agreements.

India also offered a USD 100 million line of credit for development of infrastructure in PNG and agreed to jointly develop new avenues of cooperation to explore and develop the Pacific nation’s vast oil and gas resources.

India also offered Papua New Guinea its technology, financial wherewithal, skilled manpower and institutional support to harness the mineral-rich country’s abundant natural resources and establish mutually beneficial economic and commercial ventures.

(With inputs from PTI)