First ever visit of an Indian Vice President to Paraguay

Paraguay Special Report 2019 Source: Ministry of External Affairs, Government of India

First ever visit of an Indian Vice President to Paraguay

Vice President M. Venkaiah Naidu meets Mario Abdo Benitez, President of Paraguay in Asuncion (March 06, 2019)

Indian Vice President M Venkaiah Naidu visited Paraguay from 5th-7th March 2019. Vice President Naidu had a meeting with the President of Paraguay, H.E. Mario Abdo Benitez and Vice President H.E. Hugo Velazquez. Vice President also had a meeting with the President of the National Congress (Senate), H.E. Silvio Ovelar.

This was the first high-level visit from India to Paraguay since the establishment of diplomatic relations in 1961. The meetings were warm and friendly and there was a commitment from both sides to strengthen and deepen ties.

President Abdo recalled his visit to India about 25 years ago as a student, of which he had very fond memories. As democracies, having a similar demographic profile with youth forming more than 65 percent of their respective populations, India and Paraguay have similar aspirations as well as the need for imparting requisite skills to their youth. Both sides agreed to share experiences in this area.

Vice President Naidu briefed about the terrorist attack that had taken place in Pulwama in Jammu and Kashmir. The President and Vice President of Paraguay strongly condemned the terrorist attack and conveyed condolences to the families of those who lost their lives in Pulwama. They stated that India could count on Paraguay´s support in the fight against terrorism and in raising concerns about threats of terrorism in the international fora.

President Abdo Benitez and Vice President Velazquez were appreciative of the economic growth in India and noted that it contributes to global growth. India with its technological strength and Paraguay as a major food producer have natural complementarities for further strengthening of bilateral trade and economic ties. Paraguay itself was a growing economy and India should look at Paraguay as a strategic economic hub to reach out to countries in Latin America. They invited Indian companies to invest in Paraguay.

The two sides agreed to explore new areas of collaboration including hydel and solar power, health comprising of traditional medicine, Information and Communication Technology, farming and agriculture machinery, space and biotechnology, railways and tourism-related infrastructure. Specific areas discussed included agro-processing, the supply of equipment like tractors from India, modernization of the hydel energy sector, supply of medical equipment and generic medicine that can be useful for the Paraguayan healthcare system.

They tasked their teams to facilitate promotion of exchanges between academics and universities and also between travel professionals and stakeholders in tourism. Paraguay welcomed the offer of India in capacity building through enhanced scholarships for higher education and its ITEC (Indian Technical and Economic Cooperation) program.

Emphasising the importance of people-to-people contact, it was agreed to increase tourism between the two countries. Paraguay stated that they would work towards a more business-friendly visa regime for Indian business persons and visitors.

The importance of Parliamentary visits was emphasized, and Vice President Naidu invited a Parliamentary delegation from Paraguay to visit India. India and Paraguay would be jointly celebrating the 150th Birth Anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi and, in his context, Vice President Naidu announced the gifting of a Mahatma Gandhi statue to Paraguay for which the Mayor of Asuncion is identifying a suitable location. India welcomed the issuance of a commemorative postal stamp by Paraguay in Asuncion, which was launched jointly by Vice President Naidu and Vice President Velazquez. President Abdo Benitez informed Vice President Naidu that Mahatma Gandhi was a great inspiration for him.

MoU between the Diplomatic Academies of both countries was signed and exchanged in the presence of the two Vice Presidents. Furthermore, Paraguay assured that they would support India’s candidature to elections to various UN and multilateral bodies.

Paraguay appreciated the International Solar Alliance (ISA) initiative launched by India in 2015, adding that it would be joining ISA shortly. To follow up on the decisions taken at this high-level meeting, the third round of Foreign Office Consultations would be held in 2019 itself.

Vice President Naidu invited the President and Vice President of Paraguay to visit India at mutually convenient dates. Prior to his departure from Asuncion, Vice President Naidu interacted with the Indian community and will be addressing a Business Forum meeting.

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