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Kalam leaves on first tour abroad

October 18, 2003 16:12 IST

President A P J Abdul Kalam left New Delhi on Saturday on a week-long visit to the United Arab Emirates, Sudan and Bulgaria, his first foreign tour after assuming the high office.

Kalam, who left by a special Air-India Boeing 747-400 named 'Tanjore', was seen off at the airport by Vice President Bhairon Singh Shekhawat, Deputy Prime Minister Lal Kishenchand Advani, External Affairs Minister Yashwant Sinha, Finance Minister Jaswant Singh, I&B Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad, Foreign Secretary Kanwal Sibal and the envoys of the three countries he is going to visit.

Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee was not present at the airport as he was away in Panipat in Haryana to inaugurate a refinery expansion project.

During the President's tour, two agreements, including an extradition treaty and a memorandum of understanding, will be signed with Bulgaria, while three accords will be inked with Sudan.

The President's visit to UAE assumes significance in the backdrop of India's growing ties with the Gulf nation.

He will be received by Crown Prince Sheikh Khalifa Bin Zayeed Al Nahyan, son of UAE President Sheikh Zayed Bin Sultan, who is away in London for medical treatment.

During his two-day stay in the UAE, Kalam will address the Dubai Chambers of Commerce and interact with the Indian community.

Minister for Disinvestment Arun Shourie is the President's minister in waiting on the tour.

The presidential visit to Sudan is coming after a gap of 28 years, Fakruddin Ali Ahmed being the last Head of State to visit this African country in 1975.

In Khartoum, Kalam will hold wide-ranging talks with Sudanese President Omer Hassan Al-Bashir, Vice President Moses Machar, Foreign Minister Mustafa Osman Ismail and Minister of Energy and Mining Awad Ahmed El Jazz.

He will also address the Sudanese parliament, interact with academics and students of the University of Khartoum and meet the Sudanese alumni of Indian universities.

In Sofia, Kalam will hold talks with his Bulgarian counterpart Georgi Parvanov, Vice President Angel Marin and Prime Minister Simeon Saxe Coburg Gotha.


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