27 April, New Delhi
President Pranab Mukherjee is embarking on a two-nation tour to Papua New Guinea and New Zealand today- Wednesday . A high level delegation including Minister of State for Agriculture Sanjeev Balyan is accompanying the President on the five day visit, which is aimed at energising and upgrading bilateral relations.
Briefing reporters in New Delhi, Joint Secretary, South, Jaideep Mazumdar informed that this is the first ever state visit of an Indian President to these two countries.
During the visit to Papua New Guinea, Mukherjee will meet Prime Minister Peter O’Neill and other leaders. He will also address a business event and an Indian community event. The President will give a speech at the Papua New Guinea University.
Mazumdar said the visit is part of the growing engagement with the Pacific Island countries. He said, the island nation is looking towards India for its development needs in health sector, capacity building in IT, agriculture and infrastructure development.
In the second leg of his visit, the President will leave for New Zealand. Mukherjee will hold meetings with Governor General Jerry Mateparae, Prime Minister John Key, and the Leader of the Opposition. Mazumdar said agreements in the areas of air connectivity and education are expected to be signed.
Besides, the President will address a gathering of top New Zealand businessmen, and address an Indian community event hosted by the Indian High Commissioner. He will also address the students of the Auckland University of Technology. The Secretary said New Zealand’s goal is to have India as a core trade, economic, and political partner and the visit is aimed to realise that goal.
He said, apart from agriculture and dairy farming, New Zealand has abilities in the areas of security and cold storage systems.