India’s foreign minister Sushma Swaraj poses with her counterparts from the African continent ahead of a meeting of ministers during The India-Africa Summit in New Delhi on Tuesday. Photo: Pradeep Gaur/Mint

India’s foreign minister Sushma Swaraj poses with her counterparts from the African continent ahead of a meeting of ministers during The India-Africa Summit in New Delhi on Tuesday. Photo: Pradeep Gaur/Mint

NEW DHELI (PTI)  –India has assured all possible assistance in key areas of oil and gas exploration and health during the meetings External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj had with her nine African counterparts, some of whom sought the country’s help in fighting terror groups like Boko Haram.

During the meetings, the two sides also discussed cooperation in wide-ranging sectors like education, capacity building and mining even as Swaraj sought help from her Tunisian counterpart for release of three Indians held hostage by ISIS in Libya, External Affairs Ministry Spokesperson Vikas Swarup said.

The bilateral meetings included talks with foreign ministers of South Africa, Zimbabwe, South Sudan, Malawi, Kenya, Cameroon, Cape Verde, Congo and Tunisia.

During her meeting with Swaraj, South African Foreign Minister Maite Nkoana-Mashabane told her: “We are the only two countries who share a Mahatma.” 

Swarup said Swaraj also raised the issue of oil exploration in South Sudan which is a reservoir of hydrocarbons. ONGC is engaged in oil exploration in South Sudan and the operation was hampered due to insurgency.

Foreign Minister of South Sudan Barnaba Marial Benjamin sought India’s help in building a hospital in the capital city of Juba besides assistance in agriculture and livestock.

Foreign Minister of Cameron Mbella Mbella sought India’s help in security as the country is facing threat from Islamist group Boko Haram.

“Cameron, Malawi and South Africa sought India’s help in the education sector. Zimbabwe sought cooperation in mining of precious gems,” Swarup said.

Swaraj assured the foreign ministers of the nine countries India’s unwavering commitment in helping them in various sectors including capacity building.

Malawi and almost all the other countries backed India’s candidature for a permanent seat in UN Security Council.