New Delhi: India considers Africa a part of its extended neighbourhood, External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj said on Sunday.
She made the remark after inaugurating the India-Africa Friendship Rose Garden as a symbol of friendship between India and African nations.
The India-Africa Forum Summit starts here on Monday.
"Our relationship is distinctive and owes its origin to a common past that we share, a past which witnessed struggle against colonialism and social evils like poverty and illiteracy," she said.
"India considers Africa as a part of its extended neighbourhood."
Africa, the minister went on, was a fronter of new opportunities with substantial trade and investments.
"We are interested in Africa's economic growth and its integration with global economy."
Sushma Swaraj underlined the logic behind the rose garden.
"Flowers signify love, dedication, friendship and brotherhood," she said.
"So we chose to build Friendship Rose garden to symbolize India-Africa Friendship which in the coming years is going to blossom like the flowers of this garden."
She also recalled the times when Indian traders, using the seasonal monsoon winds, sailed to the east coast of Africa in search of mangrove poles, elephant tusks, and gold and gemstones.
"Our partnership with Africa is unique and dates back to our civilizational contacts through ancient seafarers, traders, intellectuals and monks.
"Today as one of the fastest growing economies in Asia, India is attaching the utmost importance to its economic engagement with the African countries," she said.
Speaking on the occasin, Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal said India and Africa were bound by a history of struggle against colonialism and injustice.
He said that Indian and African countries had a common vision to cope up the challenges of urban development, traffic and pollution.
"We may jointly fight these problems," he said.
Madagaskar Foreign Minister Beatrice Jeanine Atallah, Ethiopian Ambassador Gennet Zewide and diplomatic represantatives from the 54 African countries took part in the function.
Sushma Swaraj, Kejriwal and all the diplomats planted rose saplings.
NDMC chairman Naresh Kumar said the Rose Garden was developed within a month, and it had 6,000 plants of 65 varieties of roses from different parts of the country.