Visits Visits

Press Statement by Vice President during his visit to Sierra Leone

October 13, 2019

1. I am delighted to be in your beautiful country on the first ever high level visit from India to Sierra Leone.

2. I thank you, Excellency President Bio and the people of Sierra Leone for the warm welcome and hospitality extended to me and my delegation members.

3. India and Sierra Leone share warm and friendly relations based on common values and shared vision. This relationship, nurtured on principles of mutual trust, respect and understanding, has grown over the years.

4. We congratulate Sierra Leone on consolidation of democracy as evident by conduct of five peaceful elections and three smooth transfers of power. I bring warm greetings and felicitations from the President and people of India for President Bio on his election as the President of Sierra Leone last year. I am confident that under his leadership, Sierra Leone will tread the path of growth and development. I am also hopeful that our relations will grow and intensify in the coming years.

5. While my visit is the first ever high level visit from India, India is already engaging very closely with Sierra Leone. India had played an important role in achieving peace and stability in Sierra Leone and was among the first countries to contribute troops to the UN Mission in Sierra Leone (UNAMSIL). The deployment of the 4000-strong Indian military contingent in UNAMSIL had left a positive impact among the Sierra Leoneans.

6. I had extensive discussion with President Bio today on all important aspects of our bilateral relationship as well as global and regional issues of common interest. We expressed our commitment to further build on the long-standing friendly ties between our two countries.

7. Sierra Leone, under the leadership of President Bio, has embarked on a journey of economic reforms to realize the goal of socio-economic development and inclusive growth. In this direction, India will continue support the efforts of the Government of Sierra Leone through bilateral cooperation. Today, we have agreed to enhance cooperation in areas such as agriculture, food processing, information technology, infrastructure development and capacity building among others. We will also encourage Indian companies to expand their foot prints in your country.

8. India is committed to be being a reliable partner of Sierra Leone in its development journey. Our developmental cooperation with Sierra Leone through our Lines of Credit so far has been worth US $ 217.5 Million covering a range of sectors. Today we have signed number of MoUs/Agreements including a Line of Credit agreement for US $ 30 million for irrigation development in Tomabum for self sufficiency in rice production. India is also happy to offer a Line of Credit for construction of a new Presidential Office complex in Freetown. We are reactivating US $ 15 Million Line of Credit for potable water project.

9. I am happy that we continue to cooperate on closely on capacity building especially under our flagship ITEC program. Today, a MOU was signed for Sierra Leone to participate in our Pan-African tele-Education, tele-Medicine initiative e-VidyaBharati and e-Arogya Bharati. India will soon initiate steps to set up the Centre of Excellence in IT in Sierra Leone. India will also be dispatching 1000 MTs of rice to Sierra Leone, as a goodwill gesture, in the coming months.

10. In our discussions today, we also exchanged views on multilateral issues and to build on our existing cooperation at the United Nations and other multilateral fora. We agreed that United Nations need to be reformed to reflect the realities of today and address current global challenges. Sierra Leone as Chairman of African Union Committee of Ten on United Nations Reforms including UNSC Reforms plays an important role and our positions are almost identical on the issue of UNSC Reforms. We agreed that both sides need to continue pushing for these reforms so that one-third of mankind residing in Africa and India occupy their rightful place at the high table in decision making bodies of the United Nations. I also thanked President Bio for Sierra Leone’s support to India’s candidatures in various International organizations.

11. Terrorism is one of the major challenges confronting the world today. All the nations must intensify their collective efforts and strive to eliminate the menace of terrorism and also isolate nations which aid and abet terrorism. India has borne the brunt of cross border terrorism over decades.

12. I am happy that Sierra Leone is joining the International Solar Alliance in which India is playing a leading role in order to enable rapid deployment of solar energy globally and to facilitate transfer of technology.

13. We conveyed our satisfaction at the growing people-to-people linkages between our two countries. India has extended e-Visa facility to Sierra Leone nationals for ease of mobility and both sides are also negotiating a visa waiver agreement for holders of diplomatic and official passport holders.

14. I have reiterated India’s offer to conduct a "Jaipur Foot” camp in Sierra Leone under our initiative "India for Humanity” for fitting of artificial prosthetic limbs for the disabled. This is an initiative undertaken in the context of 150th anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi. I also thanked President Bio for releasing a postage stamp on Mahatma Gandhi.

15. We always had a vibrant Indian community in Sierra Leone which always believed in the bright future of Sierra Leone and had stayed back in Sierra Leone even during turbulent phase in the history of Sierra Leone. They continue to be organic bridge between our two nations and play an important role in strengthening of our relations. I thank H.E. President Bio for taking care of their welfare.

16. I am also pleased to inform that Excellency President Bio warmly welcomed India’s decision to open our High Commission in Freetown.

17. I am thankful to Excellency President Bio and his team and also to the people of Sierra Leone for all the warmth and affection during our stay. I am confident that my visit to Sierra Leone will open a new chapter in our bilateral relationship.

Thank You very much. Jai Hind


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