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Suryakant Jena

New Delhi: President Ram Nath Kovind would visit Djibouti and Ethiopia in Africa from October 3 to 6 as his maiden overseas visit after assuming office.

He would first visit Djibouti on October 3 and would leave for Ethiopia on October 4, it was announced on Friday.

"On the invitation of Djibouti President Ismail Omar Guelleh, President Ram Nath Kovind is undertaking a state visit to Djibouti on October 3 and 4. It will be first country the President will visit after assuming office," Ashok Malik, Press Secretary to the President, told reporters.

It would also be a first visit by an Indian head of state or government to Djibouti as the previous highest level visitor from India was a Minister of State, Malik said.

During the visit, Kovind would be received by his counterpart and will have official talks with him.

"He is also expected to be received by Djibouti Prime Minister Abdoulkader Kamil Mohamed," Malik said.

During the visit, an agreement on institutionalising foreign office consultations is expected to be signed apart from agreements related to accelerated and greater economic cooperation between the two countries, he added.

"The President would also address the small Indian community consisting of a few hundred people."

Neena Malhotra, Joint Secretary for East and Southern Africa, said that Kovind would visit Ethiopia from October 4 to 6, which would be the first visit by an Indian President to Ethiopia after almost 45 years. Last such visit was by then President V.V. Giri was in 1972.

"Africa is chosen as first overseas destination of President's visit and that reflects importance given to African continent by the current government," Malhotra said.

She added that Prime Minister Narendra Modi has declared that Africa is priority for India's economic and foreign policy and hence 16 VVIP visits have been made to the continent in the last three years and there is no country in the continent not visited in last three years by an Indian minister.

"Ethiopia as one of the fastest growing non-oil producing economies in Africa offers immense opportunities for India and Indian businesses," she said.

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