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India, S. Africa Pledge to Build Closer Trade, Bilateral Ties


Both India and South Africa have expressed their determination to deepen bilateral and trade ties during a visit by the South African president to India.

After holding talks in New Delhi Friday, South African President Jacob Zuma and Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh signaled that the two countries will cooperate more closely on issues such as climate change, reform of global institutions and economic issues.

President Zuma said he wants to build on historic ties with India, which was a strong supporter of the struggle waged against apartheid in South Africa.

"Ever since I took office, I never visited Asia, and I thought it important to visit India first as a country that has very long traditional relations, even during the struggle, and after the struggle the support we got from India was exceptional, and therefore I am hoping this visit will take our relations to a higher level in everything, so that is the overall expectation," he said.

Emphasizing the need for transformation of global bodies such as the United Nations, the South African leader said the world has changed, and can no longer be governed by rules and regulations framed in the 1940's.

Emerging nations such as South Africa and India have been calling for a greater voice for developing nations in global bodies such as the UN and the International Monetary Fund.

Both countries have also decided to support each other for a non-permanent seat on the UN Security Council for the 2011 to 2012 term.

Building closer trade ties with India was a central focus of the South African president's visit. The two countries signed three agreements to enhance business ties and connectivity.

The South African president hoped both countries will raise trade from its present level of $ 7.5 billion to $10 billion in two years. He came accompanied by a 200-member business delegation - the largest so far to any country.

President Zuma said India and South Africa are in a position to challenge the traditional economic dominance of Western nations, while the Indian prime minister said that the economies of the two countries have come of age.

In recent years, India has been trying to build closer economic links with several African nations as it tries to find new markets for it growing industries.

India's ties to South Africa go far back. India's independence leader Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi lived in South Africa for several years before returning to India to lead the struggle against British rule.

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