Thu, 19 May 2022

New Delhi [India], May 8 (ANI): Minister of State for External Affairs Meenakshi Lekhi's visit to Panama, Honduras and Chile provided fresh momentum to India's relations with these countries in central and south America, Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) said on Sunday.

Issuing a press release to summarise MoS Lekhi's visit to the South American countries from April 28-May 5, MEA informed about the bilateral interactions, agreements and the evens attended by the MoS.

During her visit to Panama from April 28-May 1, MoS Lekhi met Erika Mouynes, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Panama and held bilateral discussions during which Janaina Tewaney, a Minister of Government of Panama was also present.

An agreement on Gainful Employment for dependents of officials of diplomatic mission/post was signed between India and Panama. The two sides also agreed to explore greater cooperation through the India-SICA (Central American Integration System) framework and in the multilateral fora, the statement said.

MoS Lekhi also visited the Panama Canal along with Minister for Canal Administration, Aristides Royo. She also visited Colon Free Trade Zone, the largest FTZ in the Americas and was briefed on the FTZ and possible areas for cooperation with India. She met with Panama based Indian entrepreneurs and visited their showrooms in the FTZ.

In addition, Lekhi led the curtain-raiser for International Day of Yoga 2022 at the iconic Cinta Costera. The MoS also visited a Hindu temple in Panama, participated in a traditional Garba and planted an Ashoka tree. She also interacted with members of the Indian community, the largest in Latin America numbering 15,000, MEA informed.

During the second leg of her visit, MoS Lekhi visited Honduras from May 1-3 and called on the President of Honduras Iris Xiomara Castro Sarmiento. She also met the acting Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation of Honduras Antonio Garcia and discussed various bilateral, regional and international issues.

Along with Minister of Agriculture Laura Suazo, MoS Lekhi laid the foundation stone for the USD 26.5 million Jamastran Valley Irrigation project, funded by the Government of India through a Line of Credit. The project is estimated to irrigate 3,060 hectares of land and benefit about 1200 farmers.

She also addressed more than 300 students, faculties and academicians at the largest private University of Honduras (UNITEC) on "75 years of India's growth story" as part of an "Azadi Ka Amrit Mahotsav" event.

In the final leg of her visit, Lekhi visited Chile from May 3-5, holding meetings with Chilean Foreign Minister Antonia Urrejola Noguera.

The two countries agreed to speed up their respective internal processes to facilitate the early conclusion of bilateral agreements for cooperation in pharma, space, renewable energy and for the empowerment of persons with disabilities. They also agreed to work closely in the Pacific Alliance and the multilateral fora, given their common values and principles.

The MoS also met Chilean Minister for Culture, Arts and Heritage, Julieta Brodsky Hernandez; Speaker of Chilean Chamber of Deputies, Raul Soto; and the President of India-Chile parliamentary friendship group, Ms Ciccardini.

In a meeting with Chilean Federation of Industries (SOFOFA), MoS Lekhi discussed the growing bilateral cooperation in tradeinvestments, opportunities for Chilean companiesadvantages of doing business with India.

She also interacted with the Indian community in Chile and inaugurated a Khadi and Ayurveda exhibition and planted a tree as part of the India @75 "Azadi Ka Amrit Mahotsav" celebrations. She also participated in a curtain-raiser event for International Day of Yoga 2022 in Chile.

The recently concluded visit was MoS Lekhi's first to these countries. Earlier she had visited Colombia in September last year. (ANI)

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