India on Thursday made a strong pitch to the United Nations to take the lead in evolving a comprehensive response to the threat of international piracy in the Red Sea and off the coast of Somalia to ensure unhindered maritime trade.
Simultaneously, the international community should continue with efforts to restore stability in Somalia, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said while addressing the joint session of the Ethiopian Parliament in Addis Ababa.
Dr Singh, who is the first-ever Indian prime minister to visit Ethiopia, said that India is ready to work with Ethiopia and other African countries in this regard.
The prime minister received a standing ovation from a packed Parliament as he entered with his wife Gursharan Kaur.
"International piracy in the Red Sea and off the coast of Somalia has become and organised industry. It is important that the United Nations takes a lead in developing a comprehensive and effective response to this threat. The international community too should continue with efforts to restore stability in Somalia," he said.
"India is ready to work with Ethiopia and other African countries in this regard. We would like the Indian Ocean to remain a secure link between Asia and Africa," said Dr Singh.
Hailing the role of Africa on the world stage, he said, "The world has changed and globalisation is a reality. Our people have rising expectations. Africa is responding to these challenges and discovering its rich potential and the world is reaching out to Africa".
But talking about the problems faced by the emerging economies, Dr Singh said, "Prices of agricultural produce remain volatile and the problem is worsened by speculation. The G-20 countries have taken the initiative of supporting work on the regulation of commodity derivative markets".
He added, "In this area, India and Ethiopia have vital interests and they should cooperate. The changing world order calls for changes in structures of global governance, whether these are financial institutions or international monetary systems".
"These are issues that have to be tackled and resolved. India and Ethiopia should work together to address food security challenges and our farming communities should collaborate to usher in the second green revolution," said the PM.
Striking a chord with the people of Ethiopia, the PM said that Abyssinia's invasion by Italian forces in 1935 had deeply affected Jawaharlal Nehru, who had led the Indian nation in offering sympathy.
"Nehru had said that 'we in India can do nothing to help our brethren in distress in Ethiopia for we are also victims of imperialism. We can at least send our sympathy in this hour of trial. We stand with then today in their sorrow and hope to stand together when better days come'," the PM reminded the Ethiopian Parliament.
"I believe the better days Nehru spoke about have come," Dr Singh said.
He had the Parliament in splits when he said the south Indian tradition of using fermented flour to make dosas is similar to the way Ethiopia's national dish injera (external link) is made.
Pointing our further similarities between the two nations, he said the sight of women with their heads covered and men wearing turbans is common in Ethiopia as well as in Indian villages.
In his address, Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi said that Ethiopia and India have enjoyed long standing cordial ties on the basis of mutual respect and benefits for the peoples of both countries.
He said the threads of historical, cultural and political relationship have forged the two countries together. "These two countries have stood together in many historic moments," he added.
With additional inputs from PTI