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India’s foreign minister to visit Sudan on Tuesday: official

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February 3, 2014 (KHARTOUM) – The Indian foreign minister Salman Khurshid will arrive to Khartoum on Tuesday on a two day visit for talks that will focus on oil investments, an official here said today.

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India’s Foreign Minister Salman Khurshid reads a document during a pre-Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) in Colombo November 14, 2013 (REUTERS/Dinuka Liyanawatte)

The Director General of the Department of Bilateral and Regional relations at the Sudanese Foreign Ministry Abdel-Mahmood Abdel-Halim said that the discussions will address strengthening ties between the two countries and their partnership in the fields of oil among others .

India is the third largest economic partner for Sudan in the oil industry after China and Malaysia and its affiliated companies produce about 25% of the country’s oil .

The south Asian nation also extended $700 million in development loans to Sudan and also has investments in roads, electricity and sugar.

Last July, New Delhi agreed to Sudan’s request to revise repayment terms on lines of credit worth $566.9 million.

Abdel-Halim added that the talks will include a review the regional situation in the African continent in light of the partnership linking Sudan and India along with international issues especially on reforming the United Nations Security Council.

Sudan’s foreign Ministry Spokesperson, Abu-Bakr al-Sideeg said in press statements that Khurshid’s visit is the first of its kind by an Indian official in more than two decades.

The Indian ambassador in Khartoum S.K. Verma told Agence France Presse (AFP) that the impact of unrest in South Sudan on India’s $2 billion investment in the region’s oil sector will be under discussion.

But Verma said the seven-week-old conflict in South Sudan was not the reason for Khurshid’s stop, which would focus more broadly on "the way forward" in India-Sudan relations.

"Our largest investment remains in the energy sector, petroleum sector," Verma said, putting the value at around $2.3 billion before South Sudan separated from Khartoum in 2011 with about three-quarters of the united country’s oil production.

India’s ONGC Videsh Ltd, a partner in two joint oil production companies in South Sudan, announced on December 26 that the firms had temporarily halted operations there because of deteriorating security.

(ST)

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