New Delhi, July 10 (IANS) Amid China's increasing foray in this region, India will host its first dialogue with foreign ministers of Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC) countries next month that could see the formation of a summitlevel forum to expand ties between the two sides.
India will be hosting the first India-CELAC (Community of Latin American Countries) Foreign Ministers' Dialogue in New Delhi on Aug 7, M. Ganapathi, secretary (west) in the external affairs ministry said at a conclave, organised by the Indian Council of World Affairs (ICWA) on the India-LAC relations.
External Affairs Minister S.M. Krishna is expected to inaugurate the dialogue in which the foreign ministers of Chile, Cuba and Venezuela are expected to participate in the troika format.
Alluding to success of India-Africa summits, Ganapthi unveiled India's plans to accelerate engagement with this fast-growing region in the world.
"India's engagement with Africa has culminated in the setting up of the India-Africa Forum Summit mechanism. Our aim is to have a similar India-Latin America and Caribbean Dialogue Mechanism," he said.
Ahead of the foreign ministers' dialogue, India Tuesday made a strong pitch for overcoming "excuses of distance, poor connectivity and language constraints" to forge a multifaceted modern partnership with this region which is home to 60 million people living in over 40 nations.
"A concerted and cogent approach will be formulated to direct our attention and energy to this very important region with which we could naturally forge a productive partnership," said Ganapathi.
"The LAC region is often depicted as the last frontier for India due to geographical distance and our limited interaction in earlier decades. In recent years, however, this has been changing perceptibly as our interaction increases to encompass a wide range of issues," said ICWA director general Rajiv Bhatia.
The discovery of hydrocarbons has raised the profile of the the region and made it a hub of foreign investments. China has made deep inroads into the region both economically and diplomatically. It is against this backdrop India is seeking to scale up its economic engagement with the region.
India's bilateral trade has gone up from a mere US$ 2 billion in 2000 to $25 billion. However, India's trade with the region is only one-tenth of that of China's. India's investments in the region are estimated to be around $15 billion.
Currently, Minister of State for Commerce and Industry Jyotiraditya Scindia is in Cuba after having visited Colombia and Venezuela. Krishna visited Cuba last year.
Click for weather forecast