source: Republic of Botswana (29/6/10) TAUTONA TIMES no 9 of 2010
The Electronic Press Circular of the Office of the President
"Democracy, Development, Dignity, Discipline and Delivery"
D4) 17/6/10: OPENING REMARKS BY H.H. THE VICE PRESIDENT LIEUTENANT GENERAL MOMPATI S. MERAFHE ON THE OCCASION OF THE MEETING WITH THE RT. HON. DR. MANMOHAN SINGH, PRIME MINISTER OF THE REPUBLIC OF INDIA
1. Honourable Prime Minister, let me on behalf of my delegation express our sincere gratitude to you and your Government for a warm welcome and hospitality that has been extended to us.
2. May I also seize this opportunity to congratulate you on your re-election in last year’s polls. This is indeed testimony to the trust and confidence that the people of India have in your party and your able leadership. It is through sterling and visionary leadership that your Government has been able to achieve high economic growth, which will in no doubt improve the living standards of your people.
3. Honourable Prime Minister, I am delighted to note that the relations between Botswana and India can at best be described as excellent. The number of exchanges that have taken place at various levels have served to strengthen these cordial and fruitful relations. Since the establishment of diplomatic relations in 1966, our two countries have enjoyed beneficial cooperation in a number of areas including defence matters, public health, security and law enforcement, human resource capacity building, medicine, information technology and computer sciences.
4. The Government of India has over the years been very generous in its offer of scholarships to Botswana. Through India Technical and Economic Cooperation (ITEC), a great number of Batswana have been trained in India in various disciplines. The Government and the people of Botswana will forever be indebted to India for this kind gesture.
5. Honourable Prime Minister, your country’s impressive economic achievements remain a source of inspiration to us in Botswana. We are keen to learn from your experiences, especially in tackling poverty and unemployment; improving agriculture and rural development; education and skills development, improving the quality of healthcare; enhancing the role of small and medium enterprises and developing the manufacturing sector. I am also happy to inform you that our Independent Electoral Commission is planning to visit India, at the invitation of your Chief Election Commissioner, to benchmark on the conduct of elections, particularly the electronic voting system.
6. With regard to investment, Botswana and India are indeed determined to forge closer business cooperation. The signing of a Memorandum of Understanding on Cooperation in the field of Small, Micro and Medium Enterprises (SMME), later today, attests to this. Yesterday, we also witnessed the signing of an Agreement between Botswana’s Local Enterprise Authority and India’s National Small Industries Corporation. Furthermore, the setting up of the Botswana Export Development and Investment Authority office in Mumbai, which I am scheduled to inaugurate tomorrow, demonstrates Botswana’s long-term commitment to further enhance business relations with India. These developments clearly demonstrate the desire by both countries to deepen and broaden the scope of our bilateral relations.
7. Honourable Prime Minister, it would be remiss of me if I did not commend your Government for reaching out to the people of Africa through the Pan – African e-network. Botswana is benefitting from this technological advancement in all the three components of tele-education, telemedicine and the VVIP connectivity which has been commissioned and is now functional.
8. On the international front, it is evident that the world still faces a number of challenges such as terrorism, climate change, conflicts, unfair trade practices and many more. It is pleasing to note that India is playing a key role in confronting these global challenges. Botswana stands ready to lend her support in finding a lasting solution to these challenges. The fact that our two countries share common ideals and aspirations makes it easier for us to speak with one voice in international fora in advancing the interests of our peoples. It is for this reason, Honourable Prime Minister that Botswana fully supports India’s bid for both the permanent and non-permanent seats in the reformed United Nations Security Council.
9. Let me conclude my remarks, Honourable Prime Minister, by once more thanking you, and the Government and People of India for receiving us.