Minister of State for External Affairs and Culture, Smt. Meenakashi Lekhi visited Guatemala from 15-17 January and El Salvador from 17-19 January 2023.
During her visit to Guatemala, MOS met with the Acting President of Guatemala, H.E. Mr Guillermo Castillo Reyes; Minister of Foreign Affairs of Guatemala, H.E. Mr. Mario Bucaro; Minister of Culture of Guatemala, H.E. Mr. Felipe Aguilar; Minister of Health, H.E Dr. Francisco José Coma Martín; and Minister of Energy and Mines, H.E. Mr. Alberto Pimentel Mata.
During the meeting with the Acting President, MOS discussed cooperation in the fields of Science and Technology, Women Empowerment and Capacity Building in the interiors of Guatemala. In the meeting with Minister of Foreign Affairs, both sides reviewed the entire bilateral relations and decided to hold the next Foreign Office Consultations on a mutually convenient date in New Delhi. MOS handed over a symbolic key to the Foreign Minister for the donation of ten pickup trucks by the Government of India to the Government of Guatemala. To mark the 50th anniversary of establishment of diplomatic relationship, both Ministers inaugurated the bust of Mahatma Gandhi at the premises of the Foreign Ministry.
MOS and Culture Minister Mr. Aguilar discussed growing cultural relations and the visit to India by a Guatemalan cultural troupe- Paabank. Culture Minister thanked the Government of India for the donation of the pick-up trucks to the Ministry of Culture. MOS and Energy and Mines Minister discussed possible areas of cooperation especially related to solar energy, International Solar Alliance and technical cooperation in the areas of mining. During the meeting with Minister of Health, both sides discussed growing bilateral cooperation in healthcare especially related to holistic healthcare and Ayurveda and donation of essential medicines by India.
On 15 January 2023, MOS inaugurated the warehouse of Indian companies in Technopark, Escuintla which will help in reducing the delivery times resulting in increase in Indian exports to Central America, in the presence of Vice Minister of Economy. MOS inaugurated the Indian Film Festival and participated in a Yoga Festival in Antigua. On 16 January, MOS participated in a Business dinner hosted by the Coordinating Committee of Agricultural, Commercial, Industrial and Financial Associations (CACIF) in the presence of top Guatemalan business leaders. MOS delivered talks on ‘50 Years of India-Guatemala Relations’ at the University del Valle (UVG) in Guatemala City, on 16 January. MOS virtually inaugurated the bust of Mahatma Gandhi in the eastern Guatemalan City of Livingstone where around 80 families of Indian origin people reside, who traveled to Guatemala from Belize in the middle of nineteenth century. On 17 January, MOS visited the world heritage site of Tikal, Peten at the invitation of the Government of Guatemala and participated in a tree plantation drive. MoS also interacted with the members of the Indian Community in Guatemala during her visit.
During the visit to El Salvador, MOS called on H.E. Dr. Nayib Bukele, President of El Salvador; and met with H.E. Ms. Alexandra Hill Tinoco, Minister of Foreign Affairs; H.E. Ms. Mariemm Pleitez, Minister for Culture; and H.E. Mr. J. Miguel Kattan, Secretary of Commerce and Investment.
During the meeting with President, MOS discussed ways to further enhance bilateral relations especially India’s development cooperation with El Salvador, growing bilateral economic relations and cooperation at the multilateral level including at the UN. MOS also invited El Salvador to join the Coalition for Disaster Resilient Infrastructure (CDRI). During the meeting with Minister Hill, both the Ministers reviewed the entire bilateral relations and decided that the next Foreign Office Consultations would be held soon on a mutually convenient date in New Delhi. Minister Hill lauded India’s supply of COVID vaccine and essential medicines to the countries during the challenging times of the pandemic. Secretary Kattan and MOS discussed enhancing trade relations between two countries and opportunities for Indian companies for investment in El Salvador. In the meeting with Minister Pleitez, MOS discussed about growing cultural relations. As India celebrates its 75 years of Independence, both the Ministers inaugurated Indian Film Festival in the University to mark Azadi Ka Amrit Mahotsav.
MOS delivered talk on ‘75 years of India’s Growth Story’ at the Dr Jose Matias Delgado University in San Salvador. MOS participated in a Yoga Event and a tree plantation drive at the iconic Cuscatlán Park in the capital city. MOS also interacted with the members of the Indian Community and business leaders in El Salvador during her visit.
The visit of the MOS to Guatemala and El Salvador shows the importance India attaches to the bilateral relations with both the countries. The visit is expected to provide further momentum to bilateral partnership and enhance the mutual goodwill among the people.