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PM's 4-day Mauritius visit from tomorrow

By A correspondent in New Delhi
March 29, 2005 20:24 IST
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No place is safe from the scourge of terrorism, Shashi Tripathi, secretary (West), Ministry of External Affairs, said at a media briefing on the eve of Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh's visit to Mauritius.

Dr Singh's visit, from March 30 to April 2, is mainly to inaugurate an 11-storeyed state-of-the-art Cyber Tower, which has been built with Indian assistance.

Larsen and Toubro and Shapoorji Pallonji had built the tower in a record 18 months at a cost of $45 million, Tripathi told reporters at the Shastri Bhavan in New Delhi on Tuesday.

It was partly financed from the Indian line of credit. TCE Consulting Engineers Ltd, a Tata enterprise, handled networking at the tower.

This will be Dr Singh's first bilateral visit to a country after taking over as PM.

Dr Singh's itinerary will include an address to the National Assembly. He will also pay tribute at the Apravasi Ghat, which is a memorial for Indian indentured labourers who helped build the nation.

He will also hold talks with Prime Minister Paul Berenger and meet the leader of the opposition, Navin Ramgoolam.

Tripathi said India and Mauritius have a tradition of close relations.

Sixty-eight per cent of Mauritius' population is of Indian origin.
With an election coming up in August-September, Tripathi said the PM's visit would be non-partisan. There are no political nuances in the visit, she clarified.

Mauritius follows the British Westminister parliamentary system.

Four memoranda of understanding - to set up a joint working group to combat terrorism; for cooperation on environmental protection, air services and preferential line of credit to Mauritius - will be signed during Dr Singh's visit. 

Tripathi said the MoU with Mauritius on combating terrorism was being signed would facilitate exchanged of information between the two countries on terrorist organisations.

Former prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee had visited Mauritius as chief guest at the 32nd anniversary celebration of Mauritian independence in March 2000.

Former President K R Narayanan had visited Mauritius in 2001. United Progressive Alliance leader Sonia Gandhi had visited the country in November last year to inaugurate a science centre named after her husband, former prime minister Rajiv Gandhi.

A brief stopover by Mahatma Gandhi en route to India from South Africa in 1901 greatly influenced the social and political awakening of the Indian community in Mauritius.

As a tribute to Gandhi, the National Day of Mauritius is celebrated on March 12, the day the Dandi March began.

At a briefing at Shastri Bhavan, Navtej Sarna, joint secretary, MEA, said Dr Singh had contacted the Indonesian leadership and conveyed his deepest sympathy following Monday night's earthquake, which is estimated to have killed over 400 people.

He said India had offered immediate assistance to the tune of $2 million.

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A correspondent in New Delhi