Sushma Swaraj leaves for South Africa

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New Delhi, June 2 (IANS) External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj on Saturday left here for a five-day visit to South Africa during the course of which she will participate in the BRICS and IBSA ministerial meetings and also attend a series of events to commemorate the incident in which Mahatma Gandhi was ousted from a train compartment.

According to a statement issued by the External Affairs Ministry, during the visit, Sushma Swaraj is expected to have meetings with the top leadership of South Africa.

She will also participate in the BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China, South Africa) Foreign Ministers Meeting on June 4 and chair the IBSA (India, Brazil, South Africa) Foreign Ministers Meeting.

On June 6, she will visit the Phoenix Settlement, a South African Heritage site, marking the place that served as Gandhiji’s home and where he developed his philosophy of non-violence.

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She will also participate in a series of events on June 6-7 at Pietermaritzburg, South Africa to commemorate the 125th anniversary of the historic incident in the train compartment that became a catalyst for Gandhi’s Satyagraha movement.

On June 7, 1893, on a train trip to Pretoria, Gandhi was ordered by a white man to move from first class to third class. Gandhi, who had a first class ticket, refused and was thrown off the train in Pietermaritzburg.

The two-day commemoration activities will also include the release of joint commemorative stamps on South African anti-apartheid revolutionary leader Oliver Tambo and one of the founders of India’s Bharatiya Jana Sangh Deen Dayal Upadhaya and a youth summit where 20 diaspora youth from Africa and five from India will participate to speak on the relevance of Gandhi’s message of peace to the youth of today.

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“The year 2018 is an important year for India-South Africa relations as it marks the 25 years of the establishment of diplomatic relations, the 125th anniversary of the Pietermaritzburg railway station incident and the 100th birth centenary of South African iconic leader, Nelson Mandela,” the ministry statement said.

“India and South Africa enjoy close and friendly relations which are rooted in our history and the values of south-south cooperation. The visit of External Affairs Minister will further strengthen our close and long standing ties with South Africa.”

–IANS

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