The Vice President of India, Shri M. Venkaiah Naidu visited the Republic of Paraguay from 5-7 March 2019 and the Republic of Costa Rica from 7-9 March 2019. This was the first high-level visit from India to both these countries. He was accompanied by a high-level delegation including the Minister of State for Tourism (I/C), Shri Alphons Kannanthanam, the Members of Parliament and senior officials from the Government of India.
The Vice President met with the President of the Republic of Paraguay, Mr. Mario AbdoBenítez, the Vice President, Mr. Hugo Velázquez, and the President of the National Congress (Senate), Mr. Silvio Ovelar. He also addressed the India-Paraguay business forum and interacted with the Indian Diaspora in Paraguay.
During the Delegation Level Talks, the Paraguayan leadership decried the brutal terrorist attack that took place in Pulwama. The leadership of Paraguay said that they were on the same page as India as far as the issue of terrorism is concerned and extended heartfelt condolences to those who had lost their loved ones in the Pulwama terror attack. They stated that India could always count on Paraguay´s support in the fight against terrorism and in voicing India’s concerns on terrorism in the international fora.
The Vice President emphasized that Paraguay was an important partner of India in the Latin American and Caribbean region and said that the bilateral relations between the two nations have been showing an upward trend. He opined that India and Paraguay shared common values, interests, aspirations and promising futures.
Talks were held in a warm and cordial atmosphere when the two sides discussed bilateral, regional and multilateral issues of mutual interest.
Shri Naidu applauded Paraguay’s decision to join the International Solar Alliance soon, an initiative by India and France, aimed at combating the threats of climate change and global warming.
Shri Naidu urged Paraguay to facilitate the convening of the next round of expert level discussions between MERCOSUR and India to take forward the shared agenda of the expansion of the Preferential Trade Agreement.
Paraguay joined India in remembering the contributions of Mahatma Gandhi on the occasion of the 150th Birth Anniversary of the Mahatma. Shri Naidu along with the Vice President of Paraguay, Mr. Hugo Velazquez jointly unveiled a special commemorative postage stamp on Mahatma Gandhi. Shri Naidu requested the leadership of Paraguay to collaborate to install a bust of Mahatma Gandhi at a prominent location in Asuncion.
The Vice President also witnessed the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding between the Diplomatic and Consular Academy, Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Paraguay and the Foreign Service Institute, Ministry of External Affairs of the Republic of India.
Shri Naidu also attended an Indian Community reception in Paraguay. He said that the continued interest in India in Paraguay is due to the Indian diaspora. ‘Each member of the Indian Diaspora is a cultural Ambassador’, he observed.
Shri Naidu complemented the achievements of the Indian Diaspora in Paraguay and expressed hope that, through the diaspora, the ties between the two countries would be further strengthened. He expressed hope that the endeavours of Indian diaspora would be a constant source of satisfaction and pride for the country.
The Vice President said that there was immense scope for the Indian companies for investments in Paraguay, especially in Automobile, Pharmaceuticals & Engineering Goods. ‘Given its strengths in agriculture, Paraguay can become an important partner for India as a source of agro products’, he added.
Shri Naidu invited Indian and Paraguayan businesses to partner with each other for trade, technology and investment collaboration. He also urged Paraguayan businessmen and women to visit India to experience first-hand the major transformation underway in the country.
The Vice President underscored the importance of strengthening Parliamentary linkages and invited President of Paraguay, Mr. AbdoBenítez to visit India at a mutually convenient time.
The visit of Vice President to the Republic of Costa Rica was the first ever high-level visit from India to the nation.
The Vice President met the President of Costa Rica, Mr. Carlos Alvarado Quesada and held Delegation level talks with him which was followed by a joint press statement. He also met the President of the Congress of the Republic of Costa Rica, Ms. Carolina Hidalgo Herrera and attended a luncheon hosted by the first Vice President of the Republic of Costa Rica, Ms. Epsy Campbell Barr. The Vice President addressed the business community of Costa Rica and interacted with the Indian Diaspora in Costa Rica.
Shri Naidu also witnessed the signing of two crucial documents; a Memorandum of Understanding between India and Costa Rica on the waiving of Visa requirement for Diplomatic and Official Passport holders and the signing of a letter of intent to collaborate in the field of biotechnology.
At the Delegation level Talks, the Vice President said that India and Costa Rica have close and cordial ties, based on shared commitment to the pursuit of democracy, pluralism, multiculturalism, freedom of Press, equitable human rights and other such important values and principles.
The Vice President invited Costa Rican companies to invest in and benefit from India, the fastest growing large economy.
Speaking of Indian medicines which are highly economical and FDA Approved, he urged Costa Rica to Fastrack approval process for pharmaceuticals to facilitate wider availability of Indian generics in Costa Rica.
The Vice President opined that India and Costa Rica could collaborate in various aspects of skill development such as social and community mobilisation, training in Soft Skills, Entrepreneurship, Financial and Digital Literacy.
He also said that India would be happy to collaborate to set up a Chair for pursuit of Indian studies at the University of Costa Rica in view of keenness on the part of the local Costa Rican population in pursuing such studies.
Referring to the dastardly terrorist attack on the Indian security forces on February 14, 2019 in Pulwama, J&K by Jaish-e-Mohammed, he said that there was a need for decisive action by international community against individuals and terrorist groups engaged in terrorist activities.
Speaking of the need to reduce carbon footprint and conserve the environment, Shri Naidu expressed happiness to have Costa Rica on board with us on the global platform of International Solar Alliance which has clean energy targets of 175 GW solar power.
The Vice President requested Costa Rican leadership to extend support for initiating reforms in the UN Security Council and asked for their valuable support for India’s candidatures coming up for elections to a number of multilateral fora including the a non-permanent seat of the UN Security Council for the term 2021-2022.
During the Meeting with the President of the Congress of the Republic of Costa Rica, Ms. Carolina Hidalgo Herrera, the Vice President highlighted India’s areas of strength that Costa Rica can benefit from, including Information Technology, Biotechnology, Space Technology, pharmaceuticals, hydroelectric generators, power plant equipments and railway construction.
The Vice President also attended a Luncheon hosted by the first Vice President of the Republic of Costa Rica, Ms. Epsy Campbell Barr. The two leaders discussed topics such as youth empowerment, promoting tourism, healthcare, financial inclusion, e-governance, space program, early childhood education programs, public transport and e-mobility.
The Vice President addressed the Indian Community in San Jose, Costa Rica and complimented the members of the diaspora for Costa Rica for the esteem that they have won for themselves and India because of their high professional skills and competence.
The Vice President said that India has been a votary of peace and non-violence from time immemorial. He strongly condemned the destructive forces of terrorism that continue to be a festering challenge, distracting our attention from development. ‘Peace will not thrive if the forces of terror continue their unchecked run’, he asserted.
Speaking from Costa Rica, a peace loving country, the Vice President called for a united, global response to the pervasive menace of terror. He also appealed for a concerted action at the global level on terror by concluding the United Nations Comprehensive Convention on international Terrorism.
Sri Naidu urged all the nationsto realize the ever increasing serious threat of terror and come together to name and shame and isolate all forms of terror. He called for an effective global response to this global challenge.
At the India – Costa Rica Business Forum, the Vice President said that India and Costa Rica could collaborate in areas such as Pharmaceuticals and Biotechnology, Digital Sciences and telecommunications, Agriculture and Food Processing, Renewable Energy, Space Research and Climate Change.
Shri Naidu applauded the hard work and enterprise of Costa Rican entrepreneurs and engineers which made Costa Rica an important economy and a leading services sector hub in Central America.
The Vice President said that Costa Rica is an attractive tourist destination and could be brought on to the tourist circuit of Indian travelers.
Honorary Doctorate from University for Peace
The Vice President was also conferred an Honorary Doctorate by the University for Peace founded by the United Nations for his contribution “to the Rule of Law, democracy and sustainable development in India”.
In his acceptance speech, Shri Naidu said “This (Honorary Doctorate) is more an honour for my country than to me as an individual. It is an honour bestowed on a country, a civilization and a culture that has been an ardent and consistent champion of peace since time immemorial. I am privileged to receive this honour when the world is commemorating the 150th Birth Anniversary of Gandhi Ji, the extraordinary apostle of peace”.
The visit of Vice President to the two countries has advanced India’s outreach to the important countries in the region. This visit will give an opportunity to provide impetus to bilateral relations in trade and investment, ICT, renewable energy including hydel energy, education, healthcare, space and people to people linkages.
During the visit to both the countries there were fruitful and cordial exchanges covering a range of areas of mutual interest spanning bilateral, regional and multilateral fields.