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NEW DELHI(PTI): President Pranab Mukherjee on Monday left for home from Auckland, wrapping up his six-day official visit to Papua New Guinea (PNG) and New Zealand where he met top leaders of the two countries and inked a few important deals as part of India’s ‘Act East’ policy.
Concluding the three-day visit to New Zealand as part of the second leg of his two-nation tour, Mukherjee talked about co-operation in agriculture, dairy, food processing, education and skill development as well as high technology between the two countries. During the course of the visit, India and New Zealand also signed a deal that opens the door for direct flights between the two countries with an aim to boost tourism and trade sectors.
Mukherjee’s trip is the first high-level visit from India in 20 years after Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi’s visit to the island nation.
Prominent amongst whom he met here include New Zealand Governor General Sir Jerry Mateparae and Prime Minister John Key. Earlier, as part of his two-day maiden state visit to PNG, the President had sought for freedom of navigation saying sea lanes of communications should be devoid of tension and rivalry.
The two nations, as part of measures to strengthen bilateral ties and ensuring energy security, signed a few agreements even as India offered a US $100 million line of credit for development of infrastructure in PNG and agreed to jointly develop new avenues of cooperation to explore and develop the Pacific nation’s vast oil and gas resources.
India also offered the country, during the visit, its technology, financial wherewithal, skilled manpower and institutional support to harness the mineral-rich country’s abundant natural resources and establish mutually beneficial economic and commercial ventures. The President, while in PNG, met his counterpart Sir Michael Ogio.