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Remarks by MOS Dr Shashi Tharoor during the dinner hosted by Dr. the Hon. Arvin Boolell, Minister for Foreign Affairs, Regional Integration and International Trade 

Your Excellency Dr. the Hon. Arvin Boolell, Minister for Foreign Affairs, Regional Integration and International Trade

Reputed Ministers of the Government of Mauritius
Excellencies, 
Ladies and Gentlemen, 

This has been my first visit to Mauritius and I am overwhelmed with the beauty of the place and the warmth and hospitality of the people. I am sure that every visitor to the island would carry the same impression as I do and it is not surprising that Mauritius is one of the most popular tourist destinations in the world. As your new logo rightly says, "c'est vraiment un plaisir". No wonder Mark Twain was bowled over. And as a fond lover of cricket, which I hope Mauritians will take a liking to, I would add that my delegation and I have been totally bowled over by your gracious and generous hospitality. 

Diplomatic relations between India and Mauritius were established in 1948. We have come a long way, in fighting together against global challenges, in supporting each other in times of need and in the international forums, in marching hand in hand towards progress and in sharing our resources to ensure mutual safety, security and prosperity. This is not a small achievement given that the world around us has changed and problems have multiplied while solutions have halved. Maintaining a smooth and steady pace consistently in bilateral interactions without ups and downs is the most difficult task of all, given that people come and go and perspectives and priorities change over time. I am happy and I feel honoured to state that Mauritius has been a great and trusted friend of India throughout the years and I hope that you will continue to remain so in the future as well. In fact, even the events of the day which I had the privilege of attending today symbolised the continuity in change in our ever expanding partnership. My day started with the visit to the Samadhi of the Father of your Nation, Sir Seewoosagur Ramgoolam. I was thereafter able to pay homage to your valiant forebears at the Aapravasi Ghat. I followed this by a visit to the Ganga Talao. I was indeed happy to visit Le Morne, the site where the spectrum of Mauritianness stands in full to embody the unity in diversity of your rainbow nation. And it is my pleasure to be with you tonight. 

I understand that this year has seen important milestones in bilateral ties, inter alia, the signing of the Intergovernmental MOU and the Agreement between Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd. and the Government of the Republic of Mauritius for the supply of Advanced Light Helicopter Dhruv which will be handed over officially tomorrow. Tomorrow, the MOU and Agreement relating to the supply of Coastal Surveillance Radar System to Mauritius will be signed. I hope the Offshore Patrol Vessel will also be in Mauritius soon. On other issues of primordial concern to both of us, I would say that as mature democracies with pluralistic traditions and a rich history, we will be able to find our way forward. We will give considerable attention to providing scholarships to Mauritian students in our educational institutions and our assistance under ITEC has been enhanced. We will always give due attention to your needs and requirements. 

We thank the Government of Mauritius for reiterating your support of India's candidature as a permanent member of the UN Security Council. In the meantime we are grateful for your vote for the non-permanent seat that India is contesting next year for the term 2011-2013. There is close cooperation in multilateral fora such as Indian Ocean Rim - Association for Regional Co-operation which we have to emergize - I am visiting the IOR-ARC Secretariat tomorrow. Terrorism, maritime piracy and climate change pose common challenges and it is important that as partners in development, India and Mauritius should arrive at a common platform at the international forums to address these issues. Reviving this Organisation is a shared interest for both of us. And on the subject of terrorism, may I say how grateful we are that Mauritius has stood with us all along and has been unwavering and unequivocal in condemning the 26/11 Mumbai attack where, Mr. Minister, you so tragically lost one of your own. 

Excellencies, if might digress a bit to touch upon developments in India. We had a successful general election this year. The United Progressive Alliance of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh was returned back to office with a greater majority. This will allow us to focus on our primary objective of ensuring that the fruits of the economic success percolate down towards the poor and those in the rural areas. We are also giving greater attention towards the youth in the country. The Government of Dr. Manmohan Singh is committed to the socio-economic upliftment of the broad masses of the people. On the economic front, even though not greatly affected by the global economic crisis, we have seen a drop in our growth rate. However, we have seen a turnaround and are confident that the next year will see us moving back to higher growth rates. 

Our biggest challenge is confronting the hidden enemy from without and within. We have not been fully satisfied with the cooperation extended by Pakistan on the 26/11 inquiries. They have been stalling and this been a matter of concern. During his visit to Jammu & Kashmir, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said that he was ready to discuss all issues with Pakistan - not because of weakness but from a position of strength. All the progress that we achieved has been repeatedly thwarted by acts of terrorism. We will press the Government of Pakistan to curb the activities of those elements that are engaging in terrorism in India. We hope that the Government of Pakistan will take the ongoing actions against the terrorist groups to their logical conclusion. PM Singh called upon the people and Government of Pakistan to show their sincerity and good faith and that India will not be found wanting in its response. 

Our relations with China are making progress. The meeting between our Prime Ministers in Bangkok and between the Foreign Ministers in Bengaluru went off well. With the US our strategic partnership has moved significantly forward and PM Manmohan Singh will be on a State Visit to Washington later this month. Our all-encompassing relations with Russia continue to be strong. 

India's relations with Africa are strong and consistent. We are partners in progress. India’s commitment towards Africa is unbreakable. And in this regard, our partnership with Mauritius occupies a central role - it is pivotal. 

I thank Your Excellency for the memorable evening. The tone for my calls on your leaders tomorrow has been well set and I look forward to these meetings and discussions. 

Thank you! 

Port Louis
Nov 2, 2009

 
 
 


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