By Amit Shankar Bamako [Mali], Sept. 30 : Noting that India and Mali share unique bonds of trust and mutual understanding, Vice President Mohammad Hamid Ansari on Friday said our shared values and synergies have translated into longstanding friendship and fruitful cooperation.
"I would like to reassure this august house that my Government firmly supports the unity and territorial integrity of the Republic of Mali and is committed to supporting Mali in its reconstruction and developmental efforts under democratic governance," he said.
Expressing India's happiness that democracy has been restored and the democratic institutions are being strengthened in Mali, the Vice President said, "As a friend and partner, we are aware of the recent challenges faced by the Government and people of Mali.
We have been a strong votary for restoration of constitutional order in the Republic of Mali and preservation of its territorial integrity." Welcoming the signing of the Agreement for Peace and Reconciliation, Vice President Ansari hoped that it would lead to unity, preservation of territorial integrity, lasting peace, development and prosperity.
"My Government appreciates the wisdom of Malian leadership that facilitated the signing of the Agreement.
In India, we believe that political issues should be resolved through 'Ballot' and not 'Bullet'. We encourage all stakeholders to eschew violence and to embrace peaceful and democratic means to resolve political issues," he added.
He expressed his gratitude to Mali for its support to India's proposal for commemoration of an International Day of Yoga in the United Nations and also thanked the Malian President for his support to the Yoga Day events here.
Stressing that India looks forward to enhancing our cooperation and exchanges in the culture and educational sector with Mali, Vice President Ansari said, "We were deeply pained when some extremist elements tried to desecrate and destroy the cultural treasures in the famed and historic city of Timbuktu.
The Government of India strongly condemns the destruction of heritage sites and places of immense cultural value to entire humankind by extremists and is ready to support Mali's efforts to revive and restore the rich glory of Timbuktu." Vice President Ansari on Thursday arrived in Mali on a two-day visit after his successful trip to Nigeria.
Malian Prime Minister Modibo Keita received and welcomed the Vice President at Bamako's Modibo Keita International Airport here.
Vice President Ansari, accompanied by his wife Salma Ansari, is visiting Mali at the invitation of Prime Minister Keita.
Vice President Ansari is also accompanied by Minister of State for Finance Arjun Ram Meghwal and a four Members of Parliament, senior officials and media.