India, Colombia sign memorandum on space cooperation

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By Arul Louis

United Nations, Sep 9 (IANS) India and Colombia have signed a memorandum of understanding on space cooperation and pledged to cooperate in biotechnology and pharmaceuticals.

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The document was signed by India’s Minister of State for External Affairs Meenakshi Lekhi and Marta Lucia Ramirez, Colombia’s Vice President and Foreign Minister.

During their meeting at the Palace of San Carlos they agreed that “the bilateral relationship between Colombia and India has been strengthened and diversified in the last three years, thanks to mutual learning in areas such as biotechnology, pharmaceuticals, outer space exploration, science and innovation, agriculture, trade and investment”, Colombia’s Foreign Ministry said.

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Lekhi tweeted after the meeting that they “discussed bilateral and multilateral issues of mutual interest”.

With India being a powerhouse of vaccine production, Colombia is interested in getting help in producing vaccines.

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The Ministry said that Ramirez will visit India at the end of this month along with Health Minister Fernando Ruiz and Science and Technology Minister Tito Jose Crissien to draw “the roadmap that will allow the production of vaccines in the country, as well as encourage research and regulatory development”.

“We are committed to strengthening the pharmaceutical industry, ensuring that it is recognized worldwide for its technological and social innovation. That is why it is important to work on public policy efforts. This is why cooperation becomes an important asset to learn about the experience developed by India in this matter,” the Ministry said.

The space cooperation memorandum includes “a flexible and ambitious agenda” in areas ranging from satellite applications to the launch of space vehicles, surveillance, Investigation and development, according to the Ministry.

“This memorandum of understanding is also an initiative that seeks to develop Colombia’s entrepreneurship in space development, fostering diversification and value-added capabilities of our private sector,” said Ramirez.

It quoted Lekhi as saying that cooperation between the two countries “began in 2018 when Colombia launched the FACTSTAT 1 nanosatellite with the support of the Indian Space Research Organization”.

Ramirez said: “With India we share 62 years of strong friendship and common interests in promoting global security, stability and inclusive prosperity through trade, investment and connectivity.”

During the visit, Lekhi also had meetings with the leaders of the Bogota Chamber of Commerce and India-Colombia Chamber of Commerce to discuss cooperation in trade and investment.

According to India’s External Affairs Ministry, bilateral trade with Colombia was $2.27 billion during 2020-21.

It “is a significant increase from $1.85 billion over 2019-20 despite disruptions caused by the Covid-19 pandemic”, the Ministry said.

(Arul Louis can be reached at arul.l@ians.in and followed @arulouis)

–IANS

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