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Foreign visits itinerary not made by President's office: President Patil

On-board special aircraft , Sun, 29 Apr 2012 ANI

On-board special aircraft, Apr 29 (ANI): Dismissing the criticism surrounding the large number of visits to foreign countries, President Pratibha Devisingh Patil, on board a special aircraft to Seychelles said the itinerary for her foreign visits was not made by the President's office but by the central government.

"I was even told to visit more countries because the President's office does not make the itinerary it comes directly from the government to the President with the schedule of all state visits lined up. I am leaving out two-three countries prescribed in the schedule because of time constraints but all the countries that I have visited, those visits have been successful," said Patil.

Patil, who is on a nine-day visit to Seychelles and South Africa, said both India and Seychelles are committed to work together in ensuring the safety and security of the Indian Ocean region from the threats of piracy and terrorism.

"India and Seychelles share the waters of the Indian Ocean. The Indian Ocean is a strong bond between us. We are committed to working together closely in order to ensure the safety and security of the Indian Ocean region in the face of threats of piracy and terrorism," she said.

"We are determined to continue to work with the Government of Seychelles to ensure a secure environment for the mutual benefit of our peoples," Patil added.

Describing South Africa as one of the closest strategic partners in the developing world, She further said India and South Africa will work in close coordination at international fora like United Nations (UN) Security Council, BRICS etc.

"We view South Africa as one of our closest strategic partners in the developing world and in the African continent. We work together in various international fora including the United Nations Security Council, G-20, IBSA, BRICS, IOR-ARC and others. We share common perceptions with South Africa on trade issues and are closely coordinating our position on the Doha round of negotiations at the World trade Organization," said Patil.

Earlier in the day, President Patil left on a nine-day state visit to Seychelles and South Africa.

She is being accompanied by the Minister of State for Communications and Information Technology Sachin Pilot and parliamentarians Dr. Prabha Thakur and Sanjay Shamrao Dhotre, senior officials of different ministries and a 41-member business delegation.

During her two-day visit to Seychelles, Patil will meet President James Alix Michel during which various aspects of bilateral relations, and regional and international issues, are expected to be discussed.

The President will also address a special session of the National Assembly. This will be followed by the call on the President by Leader of Opposition David Pierre.

Patil will leave for South Africa before noon on May 1, where she will meet her South African counterpart Jacob Zuma in Pretoria and hold discussions with him on bilateral, regional and international issues of mutual interests.

The President will also attend a reception hosted by the High Commissioner of India for the Indian community and South African friends of India. She will also meet representatives of Gandhi communities in South Africa. (ANI)

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