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SA pours cold water on Modi's alleged refusal to disembark plane when welcomed by minister


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SA pours cold water on Modi's alleged refusal to disembark plane when welcomed by minister

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi & South African President Cyril Ramaphosa
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi & South African President Cyril Ramaphosa

23rd August 2023

By: News24Wire


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Government has poured cold water on reports that Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi refused to disembark from his plane on Tuesday because he was not welcomed by President Cyril Ramaphosa

Officials say India knew in advance that a minister would be sent to welcome Modi, who travelled to Johannesburg for the Brics summit. 


On Wednesday, Department of International Relations and Cooperation (Dirco) spokesperson Lunga Ngqengelele said the South African government arranged with its Brics counterparts on who would receive their respective heads of state for the summit at the Sandton Convention Centre.

Ramaphosa managed the apparent tensions from the Indian delegation by first greeting Modi during a photo opportunity on Wednesday morning, before the other Brics leaders arrived, and after he and Modi had met for a working meeting.


Daily Maverick reported that Modi refused to disembark from his flight at Tshwane's Air Force Base Waterkloof on Tuesday.

Deputy President Paul Mashatile, who had to leave an official state visit Ramaphosa had with China President Xi Jinping, was dispatched to welcome Modi, who allegedly did not want to be received by a minister.

However, Ngqengelele denied there being any tensions from the Indian representatives, saying it is common for ministers to welcome heads of state during working visits, and that International Relations and Cooperation Minister Naledi Pandor received Brazil President Lula da Silva with no issues.

"Of course [the Indian government] knew who would have received the prime minister. In most cases, it is ministers who receive heads of state [during working visits], or the president himself if he is available," he added.

He stressed that all arrangements were communicated in advance.

Mashatile's spokesperson Vukani Mde said the deputy president's office would not comment on Mashatile being sent to Modi after alleged grumbling from the Indian visitors.

Ngqengelele said Modi, whose official state visit with South Africa was downgraded to a working engagement, met Ramaphosa on Wednesday morning as part of normal proceedings at a multilateral gathering. 

"There are other presidents who have asked to meet [Ramaphosa] on the Brics summit's sidelines. So, part of that was the meeting confirmed this morning between president Ramaphosa and prime minister Modi." 

He added that Dirco was working on organising a meeting with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov as part of the country-to-country engagements away from the summit.


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