Before embarking on a visit to France and Egypt, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has said that India is committed to fostering Non-Alignment Movement (NAM) and aspires to have stronger ties with Paris.
On his visit to attend the 15th NAM summit to be held in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt, Singh will be meeting his Pakistani counterpart Yousuf Raza Gilani on sidelines of the event.
The meeting between the two leaders, to be preceded by foreign secretary level talks, is an important event as it might set tune for the two neighbours to recommence the composite dialogue.
Manmohan Singh will be the chief guest at the National Day celebrations in France on Tuesday.
“The invitation extended to me to participate as the chief guest at the National Day celebrations of France is an honour for the people of India,” he said in a statement before departing for Egypt and France.
Alluding to “a close and wide-ranging strategic partnership” between India and France, Manmohan Singh said: “We would like to build upon our partnership in the areas of trade and investment, high technology, space, nuclear energy, defence, education, culture, tourism and scientific research and development.”
Singh is to leave for Sharm el-Sheikh from Paris on Tuesday evening to take part in the NAM summit. In the statement, he underscored the relevance of non-alignment in the post Cold War era and said India will play its part in strengthening the NAM.
“Non-alignment has been the bedrock of India’s foreign policy since it was enunciated by Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru. Non-alignment remains an article of faith for us,” Manmohan Singh said.
“In the post-Cold War era, when the world is no longer divided into two military blocs, the Non-aligned Movement has a renewed role to play in the emerging world order,” he said.
“The diversity and universality of the Non-Aligned Movement offers NAM a unique opportunity to address the challenges of today.”
The prime minister said, “India will play its part in helping NAM to regain its moral high ground to address issues which are of direct concern and relevance to developing countries such as sustainable development, climate change, food security, energy security, terrorism and reform of the architecture of international governance.”
Besides meeting the Pakistan prime minister, Manmohan Singh will hold meetings with other leaders including those of Bangladesh, Egypt, Nepal, Sri Lanka and Vietnam.