July 30, 2019: Ram Nath Kovind, the president of India, reached Cotonou, Benin on the first leg of his state visits to three West African nations - Benin, Gambia, and Guinea. This visit is the first-ever visit of the head of state or head of government of India to each of the three countries.

Subsequently, the president led delegation-level talks between the two sides. Speaking on the occasion, he said that Benin and India share warm and friendly ties. India is keen to strengthen economic partnership with Benin. He was happy to note that India has emerged as the largest trading partner of Benin with two-way trade crossing $800 million. Around 100 Indian or Indian-owned companies are operating in Benin. More Indian companies are interested to enter the Benin market, especially in mining. India seeks Benin's support to help them grow their business.

Kovind said that India is committed to supporting Benin's growth and development. He was happy to note that implementation of the $42.6 million line of credit (LoC) for upgradation of water supply schemes in 103 villages in Benin, is proceeding well. He announced fresh LoC worth $100 million for developmental projects in Benin. He also announced an extension of e-visa facility to Benin. He expressed confidence that this facility will give a major boost to India-Benin business relations. India also offered to extend free tele-education courses to 15,000 Beninese students and tele-medicine courses to 1,000 doctors and paramedics in Africa. In addition, the two sides discussed defence and security cooperation and India offered further training assistance to Benin to expand its anti-piracy capacity.

Kovind commenced his engagements with a visit to the presidential palace of the Marina in Cotonou where he was received by his counterpart, Patrice Talon and accorded a ceremonial welcome.

During the subsequent one-to-one discussions with Talon, the Indian president said that it is indeed a great honour for him to pay the first-ever state visit from India to Benin.

India thanked Benin for its support for India's candidature for permanent membership of the UN Security Council. Both countries reiterated their commitment to stand together in the global fight against terrorism and piracy. They also agreed to work together to combat climate change through the International Solar Alliance.

The two presidents witnessed the signing and exchange of memorandum of understanding (MoUs) and agreements in the field of export credit and investment insurance, and among others.

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