Vice President Hamid Ansari arrived in Venezuela on Friday to attend the 17th NAM Summit during which India is expected to raise its concerns over terrorism besides deliberating on key issues like UN reform, climate change and nuclear disarmament.
Vice President called on Maduro in his first official engagement in Venezuela after arriving here as the leader of the Indian delegation at the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) Summit in the absence of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who is only the second Indian Premier to give the Cold War-era bloc’s summit a miss after Charan Singh in 1979.
In his call on with Maduro, Ansari was accompanied by Minister of State for External Affairs M J Akbar and Secretary West Sujata Mehta.
The meeting between Ansari and Maduro came less than a month after Venezuelan Foreign Minister Delcy Rodriguez visited India to personally hand over an invitation for India’s participation in the 17th NAM Summit
Earlier, Ansari was received by Venezuela’s Executive Vice President Aristobuli Isturiz at the Santiago Mario Caribbean International Airport here and was accorded a ceremonial welcome.
The Vice President is leading the Indian delegation in the absence of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who is only the second Indian Premier to give the Cold War-era bloc’s summit a miss after Charan Singh in 1979.
While briefing reporters on his way to the summit being held in Venezuela’s Margarita Island, Ansari had said India will strongly take up its concerns about terrorism at the summit as it has been doing so at all international forums.
“Yes we are doing it (raising concerns over terrorism) on all fora and certainly it (NAM) is an important forum and we will take it up, no question about it,” Ansari told reporters on his way to attend the NAM summit.
“Terror is something which impedes everything. If our objective is development, then terror cuts right across it. We need peace, we need social peace, we need international Peace both these are being interrupted by terror,” he had said.
During his three-day visit from Friday evening (early Saturday morning India time) to Sunday, Ansari will also hold bilateral meetings with world leaders on the sidelines of the summit.
“The summit is expected to deliberate on issues of contemporary relevance and concern such as terrorism, UN reform, the situation in West Asia, threats to peace and security, UN peacekeeping operations, climate change, sustainable development, economic governance, south-south cooperation, refugees and migrants, and nuclear disarmament,” according to the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA).
“All these issues are of relevance in the context of the discussions that will take place at the United Nations in coming months,” the MEA said in a statement.
The Non Aligned Movement (NAM) Summit brings together leaders from 120 developing countries that are its members. The NAM Summits are among the largest gatherings of countries, after the United Nations.
India is one of the founding members of the NAM and it had hosted its 7th summit in 1983 in New Delhi. The last NAM Summit was hosted by Iran in 2012.
The membership of NAM comprises 53 countries from Africa, 39 from Asia, 26 from Latin America and the Caribbean and 2 from Europe (Belarus, Azerbaijan). There are 17 countries and 10 international organisations that are Observers at NAM.
The NAM came into being 55 years ago when leaders of 25 developing countries met at the 1961 Belgrade Conference.
The summit comes amid political and economic turmoil in this oil-rich country which has skidded into crisis as global crude prices have plunged since mid-2014, pushing President Maduro’s socialist model to the brink.