• Monday, June 17, 2024

Africa

Did Modi refuse to get off plane over a South Africa government ‘snub’? Officials reject claim

Daily Maverick, a South African news outlet, said the Indian PM Modi refused to leave his plane as the host government did not send a more senior official to give him a welcome.

Indian prime minister Narendra Modi acknowledges a traditional welcome extended to him by local tribal dancers on his arrival in Johannesburg, South Africa on Tuesday, August 22, 2023, on a three-day visit to attend the 15th BRICS summit. To his right is South African deputy president Paul Mashatile. (ANI Photo)

By: Shubham Ghosh

A DIPLOMATIC low was allegedly seen on Tuesday (22) after the aircraft of Indian prime minister Narendra Modi touched down upon Waterkloof Air Base in Pretoria near Johannesburg, South Africa, where he has visited for the 15th BRICS summit.

Daily Maverick, a news outlet in the host country, reported government officials as saying that Modi allegedly refused to leave his plane as the South African government did not send a more senior official to give him a welcome.

According to the outlet, a cabinet minister was initially sent to receive the Indian leader but the latter refused to get off the aircraft. It also said that by contrast, South African president Cyril Ramaphosa personally welcomed his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping at the airport after the latter reached the host nation on Monday (21) night.

Xi is on an official state visit to South Africa.

It was reported that South African deputy president Paul Mashatile then proceeded to receive Modi, leaving an event held for the Chinese president.

A spokesperson for Mashatile said the plan was always for the deputy president to welcome the Indian PM and that the South African leader was at the air base before Modi’s arrival.

The Daily Maverick reported, headlined ‘Tough Love Triangle: While Ramaphosa focused on Xi, Modi threw a tantrum and refused to get off his plane’ was not accessible from India on Wednesday.

“Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi refused to get off his aircraft at Waterkloof Air Force Base because the South African government had only sent a Cabinet minister to officially welcome him, officials said. By contrast, President Cyril Ramaphosa had personally been on the tarmac to greet Chinese President Xi Jinping when he arrived on Monday night,” the report said.

The article also said that the South African government, which arranged for a state visit for XI, was not able to do a similar thing for Modi due to scheduling clashes.

India’s ministry of external affairs did not officially react to the Maverick article and official sources denied the claims, The Wire reported.

news24, another South African news outlet, however, reported that the country’s government officials strongly denied the claims made in the Daily Maverick article.

The spokesperson for South Africa’s department of international relations and cooperation, Lunga Ngqengelele said the South African government had “arranged with its BRICS counterparts as to who would receive the respective heads of state at the Sandton Convention Centre”.

He denied that there was any tension from the Indian visitors and that it was “common for ministers to welcome heads of state during working visits”.

He also said that South African foreign minister Naledi Pandor had received Brazilian president Lula da Silva without any issue.

He said the Indian government knew who would have received the prime minister.

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