Patil returns home after two-nation visit

New Delhi: Wrapping up the last foreign tour before her tenure comes to an end on July 25, President Pratibha Patil returned here today after a nine-day visit to the South Africa and Seychelles.

Patil`s Seychelles trip, where she arrived on April 29, was marked by key developments that included India`s support to the island republic in tackling with the menace of piracy, apart from a USD 75 million financial package to it. During what came as the second Presidential visit from India to the country after 22 years, India inked two key MoUs with Seychelles.

The first MoU was on police research under which police personnel of the island republic would receive training from India`s Bureau of Police Research and Development, while the other one was on cooperation in youth and sports affairs to facilitate greater people to people contact.

In South Africa, during the second leg of her tour, Patil held discussions with her counterpart Jacob Zuma on various key bilateral issues, with the latter terming her state visit as "significant".
Both the countries decided to expand cooperation in a number of fields like power, IT, health, tourism and infrastructure development.

Patil attended the Indo-SA business council meeting with Zuma and stressed upon taking the bilateral trade between India and South Africa to the level of USD 15 billion by 2015, noting that both the countries had become important trading partners.

During her visit, the President also unveiled a bust of the Mahatma Gandhi at the historic Number Four cell of the Old Fort prison in Johannesburg where he had served four terms of imprisonment between 1908 and 1913, including his very first sentence in South Africa. This visit stood as the last foreign tour of Patil as country`s President, with her tenure coming to an end on July 25.