Toast Remarks by President Thabo Mbeki at the State Dinner in Honour of the President of India Shri Dr. Abdul Kalam, Cape Town 15th September 2004

Your Excellency, Dr Abdul Kalam, President of the Republic of India and distinguished members of the Indian delegation,
Your Excellencies, Ministers and Deputy Ministers,
Your Excellencies, Ambassadors and High Commissioners,
Distinguished Guests,
Ladies and Gentlemen:

Your Excellency, I am indeed very honoured and pleased to welcome you and your distinguished delegation to South Africa. We also consider this an historic visit, Mr President, because this is the first time that as a people we have the privilege to receive an Indian Head of State.

We are very happy that you have been able to come to our country as we celebrate our first decade of our freedom. This is particularly important because of the immense contribution made by the people of India to the victory of our struggle for liberation.

Indeed, this could not have been otherwise because our century-old special bonds of kinship mean that this is your second home. It is a home for which many Indians engaged in the historic struggle in our country to end the period of colonialism and white minority rule on our continent.

Today both our countries and peoples are engaged in another struggle to defeat poverty, underdevelopment and the global marginalisation of the poor and disempowered.

Accordingly, our common goals and values are expressed in the various Agreements that regulate our close and friendly relations, including the Agreement that was signed this evening. I am also pleased to recall, Your Excellency, that we have within this context, determined that ours is a strategic partnership.

We deeply value this relationship which, among other things, gives us the possibility to benefit from your exemplary determination and focus that have seen your country emerge as a world leader in information technology, the development of small and medium enterprises, and other areas.

It has also given us the possibility to strengthen the collaboration between our science and technology institutions and ensure that the joint work that they do, makes it possible for us to respond to the social challenges both our countries and peoples face.

Both our countries are engaged in important programmes aimed at rural development. Together we can and must share experiences and expertise, to ensure that the rural poor in our countries have proper resources for development, including access to capital, energy, transport infrastructure and modern technology.

In this regard, Mr President, we are deeply interested in your programme and suggestions regarding the issue of connectivity that would build communication links among villages and between the rural and urban areas.
Many possibilities exist for us further to strengthen our bilateral relations in all areas. We will have to use the bilateral institutions we have created, including the one that will be initiated by our respective business people next month, to pursue the common goals of prosperity and development for both our peoples.

Precisely because of our shared values and interests, and given India's historic commitment to the development of the countries of the South, it has been possible for us to join hands in the struggle for the advancement of the interests of the developing countries and the democratisation of the institutions of global governance.

In this regard, Your Excellency, I would like to thank the Indian government and people for their support of NEPAD and therefore the peoples of our continent. I am certain that we will further deepen this collaboration and launch new programmes that will help Africa to achieve its renaissance.

I am also pleased, Mr President, that tomorrow you will have the possibility to address the Pan African Parliament. This is right and fitting given the high esteem that India enjoys on our continent.

Our shared vision and common purpose has also enabled us to form the India, Brazil and South Africa Dialogue Forum (IBSA) to enhance cooperation among our countries, and to use our collective strength to help achieve the goals of the Non Aligned Movement and the G77 plus China.

We will also continue to work together, Mr President, for the restructuring and democratisation of the UN Security Council, the rest of the UN and other multi-lateral institutions. In this regard, we are convinced that it is right and proper that India should join the Security Council as one of its permanent members.

Once more, Mr President, a hearty welcome to your second home and many thanks for honouring us with your presence.

Your Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen:

Please rise and join me in a toast to the good health of His Excellency, President Dr Abdul Kalam, and the strengthening of the special friendship between the people of India and South Africa.

I thank you.

Issued by The Presidency
15 September 2004

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