President Yoweri Museveni yesterday met and held discussions with India’s External Affairs Minister; Dr. S. Jaishankar. The meeting took place at Rwakitura in Kiruhura District.
President Museveni said Uganda and India have enjoyed good bilateral relations for a long time and he was happy to receive the Minister in Uganda.
Dr. Jaishankar is in Uganda to strengthen the relations between the East African country and India and also to see the possible areas of cooperation.
During the discussion, President Museveni assured the visiting Minister that Uganda was open to work with India in the field of minerals and agro-business as far as value addition is concerned.
“We have been looking for people to add value to our steel for a long time, but now we seem to be making a success. In order to assist the automobile industry which, we are building here; we have always wanted an integrated steel industry which I think we are about to solve. There are other minerals like Gold, Copper and so on. This is a very huge area if we can work together,” he observed.
The President also assured Dr. Jaishankar that there is an advantage of working with Uganda due to the availability of a wider and ready market for products. “When you invest in Uganda, there is a whole huge market,” he said.
President Museveni further told the Minister that Uganda was banking on India for Defence cooperation. “We need a system that can help us to track phone calls outside Uganda. Terrorists sometimes call from neighboring countries”.
“We can deal with these terrorists if we are able to locate exactly where they are. Our army is quite strong and very capable. That is why we have been able to survive in this wild place. We have a very strong tradition of training in India,” he added.
On his part, Dr. Jaishankar suggested that Uganda should from time to time send a delegation to India to interest Indians in the possible business opportunities in Uganda.
“Your Excellency, I will be happy to find out how we could help. I’m happy to note that our Defence has been developing steadily. We have become a significant exporter of military equipment. Defence cooperation is something we shall be very happy to look at,” he said.
“Digital governance is one area we could also cooperate in. It helps to maximize tax collection because every person is digitally marked. With such a system, I’m sure we can tax our people the way we should.”
The Minister also said that India is trying to increase the importation of millet, noting that if there is a way Uganda can work with his country over the issue, they will be grateful. “There are very many opportunities we can explore,” Dr. Jaishankar told President Museveni.
On the issue of Non-Aligned Movement (NAM), the visiting Minister advised the President that when Uganda hosts the summit next year, member countries should focus on discussing the common issues such as health, food security, not respecting sovereignty among others, rather than individual issues.
The NAM is an international organisation consisting of 120 countries that are not formally aligned with or against any major power bloc and is the largest grouping of member states worldwide after the United Nations (UN).
On the other hand, Dr. Jaishankar requested President Museveni to support India in its quest to join the UN Security Council.
“You have over 50 countries in Africa which are not on the UN Security Council. You have the most populous countries like China which are not on the Security Council. We should press for reforms in the UN. Until that happens, we would like to be on the UN Security Council as an elected member 2028- 2029 and we very much value your support because once it’s known that you support us, very many other countries will support us also.”
The meeting was also attended by Foreign Affairs Minister Hon. Jeje Odongo and The Minister of Defence and Veteran Affairs, Hon. Vincent Ssempijja Bamulangaki.