President Ram Nath Kovind departs for state visits to Benin, The Gambia and Guinea. This is the first visit by an Indian head of state to the three West African countries, External Affairs Ministry said in a statement.
The visit, from July 28 to August 3, is expected to reinvigorate and give new direction to India’s ties with the three countries, Secretary (East) MEA Vijay Thakur Singh said at a media briefing.
On the first leg of the visit, President Ram Nath Kovind will arrive in Cotonou, Benin on July 28 and hold talks with the country’s President Patrice Talon the next day, it said.
The president will then travel to Porto Novo, the seat of Beninese Parliament, and in a special honour extended to India by Benin, he will address the National Assembly there.
President Ram Nath Kovind will also meet members of the Indian community at a reception hosted in his honour in Cotonou on July 30 before departing for The Gambia, the statement said.
During his visit to The Gambia, President Ram Nath Kovind will hold delegation-level talks with Gambian President Adama Barrow in capital Banjul July 31.
As a special gesture, The Gambia’s National Assembly, which is currently in recess, will hold a special session for the address of the president on the same day.
The National Assembly Building Complex in Banjul is one of the prominent projects in West Africa built under Line of Credit extended by India. Kovind will also attend an event by the Indian community and inaugurate an exhibition on Mahatma Gandhi and Khadi on August 1.
In the third and final leg of his visit, President Kovind will visit Guinea and hold delegation-level talks with Guinea President Alpha Cond.
Other elements of his programme in Conakry, Guinea, include attending state banquet hosted in his honour on August 2 and an interaction with the Indian community at a reception on August 3.
Various MoUs and agreements will be signed during Kovind’s visit to the three west African countries, Singh said.
President Ram Nath Kovind has visited 20 countries in his tenure till now and after this visit the number will be 23, Press Secretary to the President Ashok Malik said.
The president’s visit to Benin, The Gambia and Guinea, will be his fourth visit to the African continent. The visit of the president will further deepen India’s relations with the African nations, the statement said.
President Ram Nath Kovind will be accompanied by Pratap Chandra Sarangi, Minister of State for Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises/Animal Husbandry, Dairying and Fisheries, and Member of Parliament Dilip Ghosh.