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External affairs Minister Mr. Pranab Mukherjee's visit to New York

New Delhi
September 23, 2007

H.E Mr. Pranab Mukherjee, Minister of External Affairs of India, arrived in New York on the morning of September 23, to lead the Indian delegation at the 62nd UN General Assembly.

The Minister participated in a High-Level meeting convened by the Secretary-General of the United Nations, jointly co-chaired by the UNSG and H.E President Hamid Karzai of Afghanistan. In his statement, the Minister reaffirmed India’s commitment to the reconstruction and long-term development of Afghanistan, noting that India had pledged over US$ 750 million in assistance, with over US $ 300 million already disbursed. India’s assistance covers virtually all regions of Afghanistan, and includes areas ranging from infrastructure projects to small development projects, and capacity-building assistance. The Minister also emphasized the central importance of addressing the security situation in Afghanistan, emphasizing the need for both a robust international political solution and a stronger internal military response. Lastly, the Minister underscored the centrality of the regional aspect in reconstruction and donor-led development processes. The meeting concluded with the adoption of a communiqué, which is available on the website of the United Nations.

In the afternoon, the External Affairs Minister met H.E Mr. Yang Jiechi, Foreign Minister of the Peoples’ Republic of China. The Ministers discussed the further expansion of the strategic cooperative partnership between the two countries, and agreed on the need to expand bilateral cooperation, including in multilateral fora such as the United Nations. Both sides noted the rapid expansion of bilateral trade, and expressed satisfaction that the target for bilateral trade of US $ 40 billion would be achieved soon. They also noted that high-level interaction between the two countries continued to increase, in accordance with the Ten Point initiative agreed upon by both sides during the visit of President Hu Jintao to India in 2006.

Later in the evening, the Minister called upon H.E Mr. Mahinda Rajapakse, President of Sri Lanka. The meeting was in continuation of the practice of regular and close consultations between the two countries, on issues of common concern. As befitting the historic and close ties between the two nations, the talks were held in a warm and cordial atmosphere. The two sides discussed bilateral relations, as well as regional and international issues of mutual interest.

Finally, the Minister participated as Chief Guest at the inaugural event of “India@60”, organized by the Tourism Ministry of the Government of India. This event was a celebration of the sixtieth anniversary of India’s independence, at which India’s diversity and cultural traditions were highlighted.