New Delhi: India’s foreign affairs minister Sushma Swaraj sought to resolve the controversy over the attack on Africans in India, ostensibly caused by racism, by asking Indians to reach out to Africans.

“I appeal to fellow Indians. Next time you meet an African citizen, pl (Please) shake hand and say ‘India loves you’," tweeted Swaraj. While many appreciated the sentiment reflected in her message, some also pointed out that Africa is not a country and doesn’t have citizens.

The foreign affairs minister also quoted a news report from the Indian Express newspaper about the Delhi Police trying to “break the ice" between Africans and Delhi citizens.

She thanked home minister Rajnath Singh, Delhi’s lieutenant-governor Najeeb Jung and Delhi Police commissioner Alok Verma for the initiative.

“I appreciate Delhi Police officers Sh Ishwar Singh, Sh Sanjay Bhatia and Ms Nupur Prasad for this meeting. Pl (please) keep it up," Swaraj tweeted.

Last week, a Congolese man was severely killed by a group of people in New Delhi following an altercation. There are many thousands of Africans in India either pursuing studies or visiting for affordable medical treatment.

Following the incident, envoys of African nations stationed in New Delhi protested, and some even threatened to boycott Africa Day celebrations on 26 May. The situation was later resolved with the intervention of the government.

On Tuesday, Indian vice-president Mohammed Hamid Ansari said that last week’s killing of a Congolese man by a group in New Delhi was “despicable" and that India “greatly value(s) its relationship with Africa..."

“Our present commitment to developing a comprehensive relationship (with Africa) is something that is well stated," he told reporters en route to Rabat. “It (the attack) is unfortunate, it has to be condemned," Ansari said.

India is trying to strengthen its ties with Africa in the face of stiff competition from strategic rival China.