New Delhi: The third India-Africa Forum Summit (IAFS) kicked off here on Monday with senior officials of the host nation and 54 countries from the continent negotiating two agreements even as the tremors of an earthquake that jolted India, Pakistan and Afghanistan were felt at the venue.
Proceedings at the Indira Gandhi Indoor Stadium went on smoothly despite the earthquake, according to an Indian external affairs ministry official.
“The officials did feel the earthquake. But nothing really happened. The meeting is going on,” the official said.
Later, speaking to the media, Indian external affairs ministry spokesperson Vikas Swarup said that the summit formally started on Monday with the meeting of the senior officials.
“Two agreements are being negotiated. One is political, which will be about political partnership between India and Africa and it will also touch upon global and regional issues.
“The other is a framework document of cooperation. That will recall the developmental partnership between India and Africa, lines of credit, what are African needs, where we can contribute and how both sides can work together to improving the lives of both our peoples,” he said.
Meanwhile, IAFS chief coordinator Syed Akbaruddin told the media that all 54 countries which have been invited will be represented at the summit.
“This is a summit of 56 representatives – 54 (countries) from Africa, the African Union and our prime minister,” said Akbaruddin, an additional secretary in the external affairs ministry.
“We are confident that every institution and country invited will be present when our prime minister will take the floor on October 29. This summit will be a gathering of every country in Africa, the African Union and India, which is unprecedented in the annals of any summit between Africa and any other country,” he said.
Though he did not give the exact number of heads of government and state who will be coming, he said that even countries that had elections or where new governments have been formed will be represented at the highest level.
This will be the first time that all the 54 African countries are coming together outside the continent for such a meeting, with 40 of them expected to be represented by their heads of state or government.
The two previous India-Africa summits were held in 2008 and 2011, in New Delhi and Addis Ababa but with only representative participation from African countries.
To a question about India having less presence than China in the retail sector in African countries, Akbaruddin said that development of human resources is primary to India’s engagement with Africa and any other resource is peripheral.
He also said that the issue of terrorism was expected to come up during meetings at the summit.
Akbaruddin said leaders of 20 of the 54 African countries will be accompanied by their spouses at the summit.
Swarup said that on on Tuesday the foreign ministers of India and the African countries will meet.
External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj will then hold bilateral meetings with several of her African counterparts.
“Among the foreign ministers she will be meeting will be those of zimbabwe, South Sudan, Kenya, Malawi, DRC (Democratic Republic of Congo), Cameroon, Cape Verde and Ghana,” he said,