With diamonds on mind, India’s vice president reaches Botswana

By Devirupa Mitra, IANS,

Gaborone: On the last leg of his three-nation African tour, Indian Vice President Hamid Ansari arrived in Botswana Saturday, hoping to increase direct access to the country’s famed uncut diamonds for the Indian diamond industry.

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The vice president’s special aircraft landed at Seretse Khama airport in the Botswana capital Gaborone at about 11.45 a.m. He had started on his trip Jan 5 in Zambia, before reaching Malawi Jan 7.

He was received at the airport by Vice President Mompati Merafhe and a group of tribal dancers in their traditional finery. The vice president and his wife Salma Ansari were quite taken in with the dancers, as they watched them perform nimbly near the tarmac.

Ansari is scheduled to call on President Seretse Khama Ian Khama at his presidential palace and will attend a state banquet hosted by Vice President Merafhe.

Three agreements in agriculture, education and small enterprises are likely to be signed during the three-day visit.

India is a on a diamond search in the southern African country of Botswana, from where it hopes to increase direct access of Indian companies to rough diamonds, rather than through middlemen.

The intention has already been articulated by Ansari.

“Botswana is the world’s first or second largest diamond producer. This is of direct interest to us, as we have a large and prosperous diamond cutting industry in Gujarat,” Ansari had told reporters at the beginning of his journey from New Delhi Tuesday.

Ansari is scheduled to visit the offices of the world’s largest diamond trading company, De Beers group’s Diamond Trading Corporation, Monday.