India attaches utmost priority to its relationship with Africa, Vice President M Venkaiah Naidu has said, as he called for stepping up bilateral cooperation in green energy, services, health, and agriculture among other sectors.
Naidu arrived here on Monday on the first leg of his three-nation tour of Gabon, Senegal, and Qatar.
Addressing the business community at an event organized by the India-Gabon Business Forum on Tuesday, Naidu said: ''India attaches utmost priority to its relationship with Africa''.
He ''called for exploring India-Gabon cooperation in green energy, services, health, and agriculture among other sectors,'' the Ministry of External Affairs tweeted.
Naidu also attended a reception hosted by the Indian community in Libreville.
''He appreciated the small but significant Indian diaspora for its noteworthy contribution to the growth and development of Gabon,'' the MEA tweeted.
Around 800 Indians are living in Gabon. They are engaged in infrastructure projects, trading, and export of timber and metal scrap.
The Vice President was happy that major Indian festivals are celebrated by the entire community together. He asked them to respect local laws and customs at the same time preserving the age-old Indian values of 'share & care' and respect for elders and nature.
Taking to his Twitter handle, Gabon's President Ali Bongo Ondimba said he was delighted to welcome the Vice-President of India to Gabon.
He said economic opportunities, the quality of the business climate, and stability are factors that make Gabon an attractive country.
Replying to his tweet, Naidu said: ''India stands committed to being an active partner in Gabon's growth story. Together we can harness our many complementaries and broad base our economic cooperation for a better tomorrow.'' Naidu on Tuesday also held wide-ranging talks with Gabon's top leadership and expressed India's readiness to work with the central African country in various sectors and broaden regional and multilateral cooperation.
While Naidu's visit is the first by any Indian vice president to all three countries, it marks the first-ever high-level visit from India to Gabon and Senegal.
From Gabon, Naidu will travel to Senegal on Wednesday where he will hold delegation-level talks with its President Macky Sall, and meet the President of the National Assembly Moustapha Niasse, and other dignitaries.
India and Senegal are celebrating the 60th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations this year. The vice-president is also expected to attend a business roundtable and address the Indian community.
His visit is expected to add momentum to India's engagement with Africa and emphasize New Delhi's commitment to the African continent, the Vice-President Secretariat said in a statement ahead of his departure.
The last leg of the tour will be the visit to Qatar from June 4 to 7.