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Khurshid meets Argentinian president

Posted on Feb 08, 10:41PM | IANS

New Delhi, Feb 8 : External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid, who is on two-nation tour to South America, had a one-on-one meeting with Argentinian President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner during the second leg of his visit.

After arriving in Buenos Aires Thursday evening, Khurshid met Kirchner for half an hour.

The Argentinian president "thanked the Government of India for its support to Argentina in the IMF censure voting as well as on the Malvinas issue", said a statement here Friday.

The International Monetary Fund has begun formal censure proceedings against Argentina over its flawed official statistics. Argentina is in a stand-off with Britain over the Falkland islands, also called Malvinas, in the South Atlantic Ocean. The Falkland Islands were the focus of a short war between Britain and Argentina in 1982.

Kirchner also "directed Foreign Minister (Hector) Timerman to identify issues of bilateral cooperation that need special handling" in the official meeting scheduled to be held with Khurshid Saturday.

Some of the issues to be focused on include settling the issue of business visas to representatives of Indian trade and industry, agricultural cooperation, cooperation in the energy sector including oil and gas sectors, the statement said.

Kirchner also "fondly remembered her visit to India in 2009". She described Prime Minister Manmohan Singh as a ¨sincere and honest leader¨and requested Khurshid to convey her sincere gratitude to Congress chief Sonia Gandhi.

"She expressed a keen desire that both India and Argentina should identify complementarities that exist between the two countries, and also identify specific action points of cooperation".

Earlier, during Khurshid's visit to Chile, the two countries agreed to further strengthen cooperation in diverse sectors, and to expand existing institutional frameworks.

Khurshid's visit is the first ever by an Indian external affairs minister to Chile.

The significant outcomes of the visit are: Setting up of bilateral India-Chile Scientific Forum to foster joint research in select areas including tele-medicine, e-governance, tele-education, agriculture, astronomy, glaciology, oceanography, climate change, information technology and renewable energy, in particular bio-fuels, solar, wind and hydro-energy.

The Preferential Trade Agreement (PTA) between India and Chile currently has about 400 odd items. Discussions are underway to have this list expanded to include about 3,500 items. Both sides felt that the expansion of the PTA should be concluded soon.

Chile is the only country in Latin America with which India has a PTA. Chilean side expressed their keenness to elevate the PTA into a Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (CEPA) with India and discussions are also expected to commence soon.

Chile agreed to liberalise their business visa regime for Indian businessmen. A law for enacting changes in the consular policies in Chile is expected to be considered in the Chilean Parliament.

Chile expressed keenness to open a Consulate General in Mumbai to enable Indian businessmen easier access for visas.

The possibility of a VVIP visit to India later during the year was also discussed.

A Double Taxation Avoidance Agreement [DTAA] between the two countries is also expected to be signed shortly.·

In view of the profound interest in Chile for Indian philosophy and Indian culture, opening up of an Indian Cultural Centre in Santiago would be explored.

Khurshid also laid the foundation stone for establishing Plaza de la India in Punta Arenas. A statue of Mahatma Gandhi, measuring 6 feet 6 inches in Dandi pose, was also displayed on the occasion. Punta Arenas has a significant presence of Indian business people with the first Indians who arrived in Chile more than 100 years ago having settled here, the statement said.