The SA National Defence Force’s gun salute echoed at the Union Buildings in Pretoria on Friday morning as President Jacob Zuma officially welcomed visiting Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who is on an official visit.
The Indian flag was hoisted high at the Union Buildings as Modi walked on the red carpet, inspecting the ceremonial guard of honour.
Moments later, the two heads of state were ushered away to the presidential boardroom for a closed door tête-à-tête. Zuma and Modi are scheduled to address media later on Friday.
Modi arrived in South Africa on Thursday evening, where he was welcomed at the Waterkloof Air Force Base in Pretoria by senior South African government officials, including International Relations Minister Maite Nkoana-Mashabane.
Zuma and Modi are also scheduled to address a South Africa-India Business Forum meeting later on Friday.
The meetings form part of Modi’s official visit to the country. He is also expected to undertake engagements elsewhere in Gauteng and in KwaZulu-Natal.
In a statement, the presidency said India and South Africa have enjoyed, “a deep and shared history of friendship and solidarity”. India was an ally of the liberation struggle and had been at the forefront of helping to isolate the apartheid government.
With the transition to democracy under way, South Africa and India established full diplomatic relations in 1993.
On this visit, South Africa and India – who are both members of the Brics bloc alongside Brazil, Russia, and China – will look to strengthen economic, political, and social ties with a focus on trade between the two nations.
“On international cooperation, South Africa wants to see a meaningful reform of the global governance system to make the system more responsive to the needs of the developing world, especially Africa, and this matter will feature in the discussions,” said presidency spokesperson Bongani Ngqulunga.
During the bilateral, Zuma and Modi, along with their delegations, will conclude some of the work around bilateral agreements and memorandums of understanding currently under consideration.
“The visit will also serve to further strengthen the excellent people-to-people contact that exists between the two countries,” said Ngqulunga.
Before coming to SA, Modi on Thursday visited Maputo, Mozambique. Modi is also expected to visit Tanzania and Kenya during his continental tour and is expected to return home on Monday.
– African News Agency (ANA)