The Minister of Foreign Affairs Gen. Jeje Odongo has restated that Uganda is fully committed to deepening its bilateral relations in all areas with the government of India.
Gen. Odongo said this on Tuesday while meeting India’s External Affairs Minister, Dr Subrahmanyam Jaishankar and his delegation who are in Uganda for a two- day official visit.
Gen. Odongo also used the opportunity, “to request the Government of India to consider the request to grant landing rights to Uganda Airlines, to enable the direct exchange of goods and faster movement of travellers to/from both countries.”
He said Uganda and India share a strong relationship and had signed a number of Memoranda of Understanding (MoUs) in various areas of cooperation that have further consolidated and strengthened bilateral relations.
“Your visit Hon. Minister is an opportunity to further deepen our commitments with India and take them to a higher level,” Odongo said.
Odongo noted that Uganda and India have worked closely in the multilateral arena on regional and international issues.
“Furthermore, we are committed to the implementation of the UN 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development in its entirety and to achieving the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) as we commence the decade of action and delivery of sustainable development, encapsulated in Uganda’s National Development Plans,” he said.
Gen. Odongo said Uganda is ready to strengthen bilateral and multilateral cooperation on issues of climate change, human rights, refugees and social development.
In the area of development cooperation, Gen. Odongo said India continues to be a strategic partner for Uganda in socio- economic development.
“The projects undertaken have significantly impacted various sectors and groups in Uganda. I would like to note with satisfaction some of the numerous projects such as the Bhabhatron Radiotherapy machine worth $1m (sh3.7b) installed at the Uganda Cancer Institute; the completion of the National Forensic Science University, the first of its kind in Africa and the clean drinking water project in Kyankwanzi,” he said.
In the field of education, Gen. Odongo thanked the Indian Government for providing opportunities of learning for the young people in Uganda through scholarships to study in Indian higher education institutions.
“The youth are the future and opportunities such as these, provide them with memorable exposure to get experience and also to contribute to strengthening our bonds of friendship and solidarity. I call on India’s continued support to train our youth in the areas of ICT, medicine and other sciences,” he noted.
On Economic Cooperation, Gen. Odongo said India remains a strong and reliable partner in Uganda’s quest for industrial development and overall economic transformation.
On multilateral cooperation, Gen. Odongo said Uganda is active member of the United Nations and its Agencies; Non- Aligned Movement (NAM); G77 and China; the Commonwealth and other international organisations.
“Basing on our good bilateral relations, Uganda endeavours to support India’s positions in these agencies and expects appropriate reciprocity. Uganda, like the rest of Africa support a comprehensive reform of the United Nations and the UN Security Council (UNSC) in particular,” he stated.
Gen. Odongo said Uganda believes that that UNSC should be more representative and democratic and its reform should increase membership to reflect a fair geographical representation as well as changes in its working methods and the decision-making processes.
“Uganda, as a Member of the African Union Committee of Ten countries (C-10) on UNSC Reform, supports the African position, as highlighted by the Ezulwini Consensus of 2005. Africa demands for two permanent seats on the UNSC with veto powers (if the current permanent members retain the veto), as well as two more additional seats (a total five) non- permanent seats, in order to address the historical injustices,” the minister stated.
On the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) Gen. Odongo said Uganda will host the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) summit in January 2024 “and as we assume Chairmanship, we look forward to sharing experiences and working closely with India, given your experience in chairing the past NAM in 2013.”
“I would like to thank the Government of India for the generous offer of ten (10) executive buses to Uganda, which will be used for the transportation of VIP delegates,” he stated.
On regional peace and security Gen. Odongo said Uganda believes that regional peace, security and stability is the cornerstone for the development of the individual member states and the region at large.
“Uganda has been actively involved in peace and stabilization processes in the region especially the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM), Inter Governmental Authority on Development (IGAD) on the situation in South Sudan, the International Conference of the Great Lakes Region (ICGLR) on DRC, as well as the Nairobi Process (East African Standby Force deployment in Eastern DRC), among others,” he stated.
On the refugee situation, Gen. Odongo said Uganda maintains a progressive policy on refugees and currently hosts over 1.4 million refugees, the largest number in Africa. “It is in this spirit that we recently welcomed to assist those in distress from Afghanistan.”
“I applaud India’s commitment of $1m (sh3.7b) during the Uganda Solidarity Summit for Refugees held in Kampala in June 2017. This has strengthened services to support the refugees and host communities. However, the circumstances of the refugees and host communities pose enormous challenges for the national authorities which needs to be addressed as part of international solidarity. We, therefore, call for continued support to the world’s refugees consistent with international commitments,” he said.