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BRIC countries to intensify cooperation

September 25, 2007 16:45 IST
Rising economies Brasil, Russia, India and China have decided to gradually intensify cooperation beginning with consultations at the ambassadorial level and then moving on to political level.

Consultations will focus on issues of mutual interest in the international arena as also those relating to trade, development and financial system.

The decision was taken during a ministerial meeting of the four countries on Monday on the sidelines of the ongoing United Nations General Assembly session.

External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee, who is leading the Indian delegation at the UNGA, had a series of bilateral meetings with his counterparts during which international issues as also those of mutual interest came up.

During a meting with Afghan Foreign Minister Rangin Sapanta, Mukherjee reiterated India's firm commitment to assist Afghanistan in its efforts to rebuild its economy, especially in infrastructure, and to support capacity building programmes aimed at "Afghan-isation."

The two foreign ministers also reviewed "excellent" bilateral relations and discussed the security situation in Afghanistan. They agreed that it posed a "significant challenge," officials said.

Besides the Afghan foreign minister, Mukherjee also had in-depth discussions on issues of mutual interest with the foreign ministers of Algeria, Singapore, Cuba, Slovakia, the UAE, Slovenia and Canada.

During their discussions, Mukherjee and Algerian Foreign Minister Mourad Medelci agreed on the need to expand bilateral cooperation, focusing in particular on the economic relationship.

As representatives of nations that had suffered greatly from terrorism, there is a close similarity of views between the ministers on the threat posed by this menace, officials said.

During a half-an-hour meeting, Mukherjee and Singaporean Foreign Minister George Yeo reviewed the strong bilateral ties between the two countries in the political, economic, trade, cultural, defense and scientific fields.

In his meeting with Cuba's Foreign Minister Felipe Perez Roque, Mukherjee sought and received a briefing on the health of Cuban leader Fidel Castro, officials said but gave no further details.

The two ministers noted that the excellent bilateral relationship had developed over the years with contacts at the highest levels, and they also recalled that Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had called on Castro in September 2006, on the sidelines of the summit meeting of the Non-Aligned Movement in Havana.

Following this meeting, Mukherjee met Jan Kubis, the Foreign Minister of Slovakia. The two leaders agreed on the need to build upon the commonalities in the bilateral relationship.
Dharam Shourie in New York
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