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On the bilateral meetings of External affairs Minister Mr. Pranab Mukherjee in New York

New York
September 25, 2007

On Tuesday, September 25, the External Affairs Minister had bilateral meetings with the Foreign Minister of Albania and the Foreign Minister of Nepal. Apart from these bilateral meetings, the Minister participated in a meeting of the Non-Aligned Movement’s Ministerial Committee on Palestine. He also met the Foreign Ministers of the Central American Integration System (SICA), and the Foreign Ministers of the Five Countries invited to the Summit meeting of the G-8 at the Heilegendamm Summit, namely, Brazil, China, India, Mexico and South Africa (G-5).

At the meeting with Foreign Minister Lulzim Basha of Albania, EAM welcomed the announcement that Albania would soon open its Embassy in New Delhi. The two Ministers agreed to develop the bilateral relationship, including in the trade and economic sectors. Towards this end, the Ministers decided to work towards early finalization of framework agreements to facilitate bilateral trade, economic cooperation and investment.

Following this, EAM met H.E Mrs. Sahana Pradhan, Foreign Minister of Nepal. The two leaders reviewed the excellent bilateral relationship, including bilateral economic and trade relations. They discussed current developments in the peace process in Nepal, and the state of preparations for the forthcoming Constituent Assembly elections. EAM reiterated his invitation for the Foreign Minister to visit India at her convenience.

The NAM Ministerial Committee on Palestine, which is composed of the representatives of former Chairs of NAM, met to review the situation in the Occupied Palestinian Territories. The group heard a briefing by the Palestinian leadership, following which EAM made an intervention in which he underlined the need to move forward on concrete projects and pragmatic action, aimed at providing results and solutions. While welcoming the resumption of the Palestinian-Israeli dialogue, he urged that this be sustained by a time-bound agenda. EAM reiterated that violence and counter-violence should be condemned, while noting that there could be no justification existed for the targeting of civilians and civilian infrastructure.

In the meeting with SICA, the Ministers underlined their interest in expanding cooperation between India and the nations of the group. EAM noted that a relaxation of the visa regime in the region, as applicable to Indians, would lead to an increased volume of trade and investment flows between India and the region. Separately, Costa Rica, El Salvador and Nicaragua indicated their intention to open Embassies in New Delhi next year. EAM offered to host the next Ministerial meeting of India with SICA in New Delhi next year, and the offer was accepted.

The meeting of Foreign Ministers of the G-5 took place in fulfillment of the mandate given by their Heads of State/Government for them to meet on the margins of the 62nd UN General Assembly session. The Ministers discussed the Heilegendamm process, and explored ways of expanding consultation and cooperation amongst themselves and between the G-5 and the G-8 in areas of mutual interest.