President arrives in South Africa

Pretoria: President Pratibha Patil arrived in South Africa today on the second leg of her nine-day tour, which is expected to give further impetus to India`s close and friendly ties with the rainbow nation. Patil, who arrived here after concluding her three-day visit to Seychelles, was received at the airport by South African Foreign Minister Nkoana Mashabane.

Earlier, she was seen off at the airport in Seychelles by President James Michel and other members of his Cabinet. Patil, possibly on her last foreign visit before she retires on July 25, would be in South Africa for a week. The President will meet her South African counterpart Jacob Zuma in Pretoria and hold talks with him on bilateral, regional and international issues of mutual interests.

Her visit to the rainbow nation — a term coined by Archbishop Desmond Tutu to describe post-apartheid South Africa after this country`s first fully democratic election in 1994 — is another indication of New Delhi`s growing ties with Pretoria. Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had visited the country in October last year for the IBSA Summit. South Africa President Jacob Zuma was in New Delhi last month for the BRICS Summit and had paid a state visit to India in June 2010 in what was then his first bilateral visit to any Asian country.

A business delegation is also accompanying Patil that will address the India-South Africa Business Forum meet. Trade between India and South Africa was pegged at over USD 11 billion in 2010-11. The trade turnover target has been revised to USD 15 billion by 2014. Main items of exports from India to South Africa are mineral fuel, mineral oil, engineering goods, textiles, gems and jewellery, chemicals and drugs and pharmaceuticals. Gold forms an important part of India`s import.

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