The President of India, Ram Nath Kovind, reached Cotonou, Benin, on the first leg of his state visits to three West African nations – Benin, Gambia and Guinea. This visit is the first-ever visit of Head of State/Head of Government of India to each of the three countries. He commenced his engagements yesterday with visit to the Presidential Palace of the Marina in Cotonou where he was received by his counterpart, Mr Patrice Talon and accorded a ceremonial welcome.
During the subsequent one-to-one discussions with President Talon, the President said that it is indeed a great honour for him to pay the first-ever State Visit from India to Benin. He thanked President Talon for his gracious welcome and hospitality.
Subsequently, the President led delegation-level talks between the two sides. Speaking on the occasion, he said that Benin and India share warm and friendly ties. India is keen to strengthen economic partnership with Benin. He was happy to note that India has emerged as the largest trading partner of Benin with two-way trade crossing US$ 800 million. Around 100 Indian or Indian-owned companies are operating in Benin. More Indian companies are interested to enter the Benin market especially in mining. India seeks Benin’s support to help them grow their business.
The President said that India is committed to support Benin’s growth and development. He was happy to note that implementation of the US$ 42.6 million Line of Credit for upgradation of water supply schemes in 103 villages in Benin, is proceeding well. He announced fresh Line of Credit worth US$ 100 million for developmental projects in Benin. He also announced extension of e-visa facility to Benin. He expressed confidence that this facility will give a major boost to India-Benin business relations. India also offered to extend free tele-education courses to 15,000 Beninese students and tele-medicine courses to 1000 doctors and paramedics in Africa. In addition, the two sides discussed defence and security cooperation and India offered further training assistance to Benin to expand its anti-piracy capacity.
India thanked Benin for its support for India’s candidature for permanent membership of the UN Security Council. Both countries reiterated their commitment to stand together in the global fight against terrorism and piracy. They also agreed to work together to combat climate change through the International Solar Alliance.