Amid a spurt in terror attacks in various countries, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Thursday said terrorism is the "gravest threat" to the world, "equally impacting" India and Mozambique which agreed to strengthen security and defence ties and bolster cooperation in food security.
After Modi's wide-ranging talks with Mozambican President Filipe Nyusi in Maputo, the two countries signed three pacts, including a significant "long-term agreement" under which India will buy pulses from this African nation to meet its recurring shortfall and contain prices of this commodity.
Declaring India as a "trusted friend" and a "reliable partner" of Mozambique, the Prime Minister also announced that essential medicines, including those for treating AIDS, would be donated to this country as part of efforts to strengthen its public health system.
India will also help build capacities of Mozambique's security forces, Modi said with a vow to "walk every step" with this country on its path of development and progress.
He identified agriculture, healthcare, energy security, security, defence and skill development as some of the areas having potential for cooperation.
"We want our development and economic ties to benefit our societies. We also want our partnership to ensure the safety and security of our people," he said at a joint media interaction with Nyusi after their talks during which the two leaders discussed ways to enhance trade and investment and step up cooperation in other fields.
While talking about the challenges, Modi said, "President Nyusi and I recognize that terrorism is the gravest security threat facing the world today. Mozambique and India are no exceptions. Terrorism impacts India and Mozambique equally."
His comments assume significance as these came against the backdrop of spurt in terror attacks in various parts of the world. This included the second major terror attack in less than a week in India's neighbour Bangladesh just hours before Modi spoke. Terrorists even struck at the mosque of Prophet in Saudi city of Medina a few days back.
"The networks of terror are inter-linked with other trans -national crimes. Our agreement on prevention of drug trafficking is a testimony to our shared determination to combat this menace and these networks," said Modi who oversaw India and Mozambique sign the pact on the occasion.
India and Mozambique will step up security and defence cooperation to "advance our shared security interests", said Modi, who arrived here this morning on a day-long visit on the first leg of his five-day tour of four African countries.
"We will work together to support the Mozambican defence forces. By building capacities and institutions, training of personnel, supply of equipment, and in responding to their other emerging needs," Modi said.
Noting that India and Mozambique are connected by the Indian Ocean, he talked about the "emerging security challenges", including in the maritime areas.
"It is an ocean of many economic opportunities. But, we are also aware of the emerging strategic and security challenges in the maritime domain," said the prime minister who was later hosted for banquet by the Mozambican President.
Underlining that India and Mozambique "face similar challenges" as the developing countries, Modi told Nyusi, "We will be a trusted friend in your development. And, a reliable partner in ensuring a bright, safe and secure future for our people."
Noting that the partnership between India and Mozambique is "driven by convergence of capacities and interest", he said, "Mozambique's strengths are also the areas of India's need. And, what Mozambique requires, is available in India. We complement each other."
He said Nyusi had highlighted agricultural development as his top priority and the experts of the two countries have since held discussions on "how we can work together to improve agricultural infrastructure and productivity in Mozambique. Today, we agreed to put this cooperation on the fast track."
Referring to the pact signed for purchase of pulses, he said, "We are also strengthening our partnership in food security."
Modi said India's commitment to buy pulses from Mozambique would help meet its requirement and facilitate long-term investments in commercial farming, generate farm employment and raise farmer's incomes in this country.
As per the agreement, officials said India will encourage greater production of Pulses in Mozambique with an assurance that it will be purchased by India at mutually-agreed price.
While India generally has shortfall of pulses leading to price rise, Mozambique grows the commodity without much consumption locally, the officials said, adding the agreement will be a "win-win" for the two countries.
"Health care is another area where India's capacities and Mozambican needs match well. India will be donating essential medicines for the Mozambican public health system, including medicines for treatment of AIDS," Modi said.
Describing Mozambique as the "gateway" to Africa, Modi said one-fourth of India's investment in this continent is in this country.
He said the bilateral trade has continued to grow and there was a need to provide a "nurturing" environment.
Modi, the first Indian Prime Minister to visit Mozambique in 34 years, recalled the "struggles" and "sufferings" of the two countries during the colonial days and said India had been the strongest supporter of Mozambique's independence.
"Our shared struggles and suffering under colonial oppression brought our two countries together. India was one of the strongest supporters of Mozambican independence," said the prime minister who also visited the National Assembly in Maputo.
He said the relationship between India and Mozambique should not remain stuck in the past and informed that his talks with Nyusi had covered the aspects like "shared vision" for a stronger partnership in years ahead.
"In fact, Mozambique has already been one of the gateways for Indian investments into Africa. About one fourth of all Indian investments in Africa are in Mozambique. Our ties of commerce and trade have continued to grow over the last decade," he said, expressing confidence that Indian investments will continue to receive a nurturing environment in Mozambique under Nyusi's leadership.
He said he had chosen this country as his first stopover in the four-nation tour that will also include South Africa, Tanzania and Kenya, as Nyusi had also made India his first stopover during his Asian tour last year.
Modi presented to the Mozambique President a booklet in English brought out by the Indian high commission to act as a guide to the Indian businessmen who may like to invest in this country whose national language is Portuguese.
"We applaud Mozambique as one of the fastest growing economies of the world in recent decades. Excellency, as two developing countries we face similar challenges. Our development and economic partnership, therefore, has been an essential part of our relationship," he said later at the banquet.
"Our trade and investment ties have particularly flourished in recent years. We want to build further on it. For this, India remains ready and committed to share its experiences, technology, capacity and concessional credit with Mozambique, in line with your priorities," he said.
Modi said the relationship between the two countries is not new as thousands of Indian-origin people call Mozambique their home.
"I am told that most of the Siddi community that resides in parts of India is known to trace its ancestry to Mozambique. These communities are a living testimony to age old links that have connected our people, their ideas and traditions, and culture and commerce," he said.
Referring to the "gap" in the visit by an Indian prime minister to Mozambique, he said it "should never have been so long. And, I am confident that it will not be so in future."
Modi met President of the Mozambique National Assembly Veronica Macamo.
During the meeting, they exchanged views on the practices and procedures of their respective Parliaments.
The prime minister lauded the fact that 93 out of 250 Mozambican parliamentarians were women.
He alluded to the visit of a Mozambican Parliamentary delegation to study India's electoral system in general and Electronic Voting Machines in particular.
He invited Macamo to lead a delegation to India and also called for the formation of a group of young parliamentarians from both countries.
He also signed the visitors book in which he inscribed "India and Mozambique have shed colonial legacies to chart new democratic courses. The Assembly of the Republic plays a vital role in guiding Mozambique in this journey. I bring with me the best wishes of 1.25 billion Indians who share the democratic spirit with the people of Mozambique."