Indian president on state visit to SA

2012-04-30 18:59
Johannesburg - The Republic of India's President Pratibha Patil will pay a state visit to South Africa this week, the department of international relations and co-operation said on Monday.

Patil had accepted President Jacob Zuma's invitation and would arrive on Wednesday for a series of engagements which includes strengthening trade and business ties, the department said.

She will bring with her a government minister, four parliamentarians, and various officials and business people.

The presidents will address a South Africa-India business forum in Pretoria as part of efforts to reach a bilateral trade target of R111bn by 2014.

Figures for November 2011 showed that bilateral trade was R48.2bn, with South African exports standing at R21.9bn and imports from India at R26.3bn.

"Overall, the state visit will provide India and South Africa with an opportunity to strengthen the close relationship that already exists between the peoples of South Africa and India," the department said.

According to the Times of India, this would be Patil's last tour abroad.

She has been criticised for spending a lot of time abroad, but defended her 22 trips saying that consolidating India's relations with Africa was an important part of its foreign policy.

She is the first woman elected president in India, and her term ends in July.
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