Vice President Hamid Ansari today left on a five-day visit to Rwanda and Uganda, where he will hold bilateral talks with the leadership of the two East African nations besides attending a host of events.
This is the first high-level visit from India to Rwanda.
He is travelling on the invitation of the heads of state of the countries, a senior official said.
His two-nation tour also seeks to broaden India's diplomatic footprint in Sub-Saharan Africa.
From Rwanda, Ansari will go to Uganda on February 21, the first high-level bilateral visit to that country since 1997.
The Vice President is accompanied by his wife Salma Ansari, Minister of State for Social Justice and Empowerment Vijay Sampla, MPs Kanimozhi, Ranvijay Singh, Ranee Narah and P K Biju and senior officials.
In Rwanda, Ansari would pay homage at the genocide museum (in Kigali), interact with the Indian community there and attend a banquet hosted by the Prime Minister of Rwanda.
His visit comes shortly after the visit of President of Rwanda Paul Kagame for the Vibrant Gujarat Global Summit in January.
"India-Rwanda relations are marked by cordiality, convergence of views and cooperation on major international issues, increasing bilateral trade and investments, greater people-to-people contact and a deep sense of mutual respect," a senior MEA official said.
In Rwanda, Ansari will launch India-Rwanda Innovation Growth Programme as part of which there would be a technology expo of India's low-cost innovations. The Vice President along with the Prime Minister of Rwanda would also address an India-Rwanda Business Forum.
"During his visit to Uganda from February 21-23, the Vice President would be meeting his counterpart and the President of Uganda. Ansari would also interact with the Indian community in Kampala," he said.
Relations between India and Uganda are characterised by historical cultural linkages, extensive economic and trade interest and a convergence on major bilateral and international issues, the official said.
"The visit is expected to deepen and expand the bilateral relationships," he said.
The forthcoming visit of the Vice-President is part of the conscious broadening of India's diplomatic footprint in Sub-Saharan Africa, especially in the Great Lakes region.
The Vice President will also address India-Uganda Business Forum. Besides, he would be paying floral tribute to the bust of Mahatma Gandhi at Jinja.