NEW DELHI: External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj today left on a five-day visit to South Africa where she will meet top leaders of the country and attend meetings of BRICS and IBSA -- the two major groupings where India has been playing a key role.
Swaraj will also attend a series of events marking the 125th anniversary of the historic incident where a young Mahatma Gandhi was thrown out of a train compartment in Pietermaritzburg railway station, the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) said.
The 1893 incident proved to be a turning point in Gandhi's fight against racial discrimination in South Africa.
During her visit to the African nation, Swaraj will participate in the BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) Foreign Ministers' meeting on June 4 which is expected to lay the foundation for the annual summit of the grouping in Johannesburg next month.
She will also chair a meeting of Foreign Ministers of IBSA (India, Brazil, South Africa), another bloc working to deepen coordination among the three countries on major global issues.
"The External Affairs Minister will participate in the BRICS Foreign Ministers Meeting on June 4, 2018 and chair the IBSA Foreign Ministers Meeting," the MEA said.
On June 6, Swaraj will visit the Phoenix settlement where Mahatma Gandhi had developed his philosophy of non-violence, the MEA said.
"She would also participate in a series of events on June 6-7, 2018 at Pietermaritzburg, South Africa to commemorate the 125th Anniversary of the historic incident in the train compartment that became a catalyst for Gandhiji's Satyagraha movement," the MEA said.
It said the two-day commemoration activities will also include release of joint commemorative stamps on Oliver Tambo and Deen Dayal Upadhayaa and a Youth Summit where 20 diaspora youth from Africa and five from India will speak on the relevance of Gandhiji's message of peace to the youth of today.
Tambo was a South African anti-apartheid activist and revolutionary leader.
"The year 2018 is an important year for India-South Africa relations as it marks the 25 years of the establishment of diplomatic relations, the 125th anniversary of the Pietermaritzburg railway station incident and the 100th birth centenary of South African iconic leader, Nelson Mandela," the MEA said.
It said India and South Africa enjoy close and friendly relations which are rooted in history and the values of south-south cooperation.
"The visit of External Affairs Minister will further strengthen our close and long standing ties with South Africa," the MEA said.