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Tuesday, 27 October 2015

India-Africa Summit:

Terrorism, UNSCreform on Modi’s agenda


From a rose garden to Gandhi's Africa connect, to Modi jackets, the Narendra Modi government has put in everything but the kitchen sink to ensure the Third India-Africa Forum Summit is the most successful multilateral event ever held in India.

With over 40 African heads of state and government confirming attendance, the event is being seen as India's most successful outreach ever to the resource-rich continent which has all major powers vying for influence. Given the time and attention he has spared for the summit, Modi is looking to use his personalized style of diplomacy to not just make the event memorable but to also prove that foreign policy remains his strong point despite recent reverses in the neighbourhood, most notably in Nepal.

The summit starts on Monday with a senior officials' meeting, foreign ministers meet the next day.

The main summit will take place on Thursday. Leaders will start touching down on Wednesday and have bilateral meetings with Modi the same day before going into the main summit on October 29. The main summit will comprise a plenary session and declarations.

The summit is taking place a month ahead of Africa's second such summit with China. Modi can be expected to come into his own in the company of top African leaders like Egypt's Abdel Fattah el-Sisi whom he persuaded to attend when he met him last month in New York.

Modi said Friday that India and Africa must speak in one voice on UNSC reforms. Egypt is a key member of the Uniting for Consensus group which blocks UNSC expansion.

For the moment, the government is happy Sisi is coming. In the past two summits, Egypt had sent its minister for international cooperation. Other prominent leaders attending are Nigerian president Muhammadu Buhari, South Africa's Jacob Zuma and their controversial Sudan counterpart and alleged war criminal Omer al-Bashir.

While the Africa summit will focus on energy, health, infra and innovation, it will be unique in the way it's likely to make a common cause with Africa over terrorism. Modi mentioned this in his interaction with African journalists on Friday.

He'll try to enlist support from African countries for an early adoption of the 1996 India-backed Comprehensive Convention on International Terrorism at UN.

As a rising Africa faces new challenges like terrorism and extremism, Modi believes it's important to cooperate on such issues. Boko Haram remains powerful northern Nigeria and pledges allegiance to Islamic State (IS). IS is making inroads into North Africa and has presence in Libya and Egypt's Sinai peninsula. Apart from Al Shabab in Somalia, al-Qaida in Islamic Maghreb also operates in North Africa.

Modi, who believes his own relationship with top leaders is as important as South Block's diplomatic skills, will host a dinner for the African leaders on Wednesday.

Many of them will join Modi wearing the waistcoat gifted to them that is now known as the Modi jacket.

The PM will gift the leaders Gandhi memorabilia picked up from iconic places in Gandhi's life.

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