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Malawi government tongue-tied on delegation to India

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Malawi government has said it cannot, at the moment, make public the number of people that will accompany President Peter Mutharika to India this Sunday.

Mutharika is expected to attend Third-India Africa Forum Summit (IAFS III), scheduled for October 26 to 29, 2015 in New Delhi.

Heads of government of 54 nations across Africa are expected to attend.

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Minister of Foreign Affairs George Chaponda told a press conference in Lilongwe on Thursday that currently the number keeps on changing.

“The final number is not yet out but I can assure Malawians it is a small number. However, I have to highlight that Malawi businesspersons have made private arrangements to be at the summit. They will be included on Malawi delegation,” Chaponda who was flanked by Minister of Information, Jappie Mhango said.

When pressed to give the number of people who have already left the country for the summit, Chaponda insisted on making the number public when the final list is ready.

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“We cannot readily share the number of people accompanying the President. We can do that later. Malawians should, however, focus on the benefits of the trip. It will make a difference in Malawi. It makes a difference in the world of diplomacy,” Chaponda said.

Secretary for Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, Dalitso Kabambe, said while in India, the President will hold bilateral talks with Indian Prime Minister.

“It will be good for the two leaders to meet to discuss how they can strengthen the ties between the two countries,” Kabambe said.

In an interview later, Mhango said he could not say what type of plane the President would use.

“I cannot tell at the moment what type of aircraft [chartered or commercial] the President will use. But he cannot go there by road, or by ship. For sure it is by plane,” Mhango said.

Just a few weeks ago, Mutharika attracted condemnation from a cross-section of society when he took with him a delegation of over 100 people to a United Nations General Assembly in the United States.

The President used a chartered plane for the trip.

Meanwhile, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs has issued a list of benefits which Malawi will reap from the trip. Among others, the ministry says, the summit will be an opportunity for Malawi to enhance her trade capacity with India.

The document also says Malawi is looking forward to negotiating for another line of credit that will go towards improving the efficiency of water supply in the country and also to enhance the capacities of community technical colleges.

At the summit, Malawi will also confirm her desire to continue benefiting from Duty Free Tariff Preference Scheme offered to least developed countries.

Another issue highlighted is that the summit will help Malawi finalise modalities in the hosting of India-Africa Institute of Agriculture and Rural Development (IAIARD) and Rural Technological Park (RTP), which, among others, aims at building capacity in areas of microfinance, value addition, enterprise development, agriculture insurance and research innovation.

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