India and Egypt on Wednesday decided to elevate their ties to the level of strategic partnership with Prime Minister Narendra Modi and visiting Egyptian President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi vowing to broadbase the relations in a time-bound manner in areas of defence and security, trade, counter-terror cooperation and culture.
The two leaders also discussed the cascading impact of the Russia-Ukraine conflict on availability of food, energy and fertiliser, and called for a “coordinated and concerted” approach to deal with terrorism, including cross-border terrorist activities.
Following the talks between Modi and Sisi, the two sides inked five agreements providing for cooperation in areas of culture, information technology, cyber security, matters relating to youths and broadcasting.
In the talks, the two leaders also decided to take the volume of bilateral trade to USD 12 billion in the next five years from around USD seven billion at present, Foreign Secretary Vinay Kwatra said while describing the Modi-Sisi talks as “extremely productive” and “very warm”.
The 68-year-old influential Arab leader, who arrived here on Tuesday on a three-day visit, will grace the Republic Day celebrations as the chief guest on January 26.
“Strategic cooperation between the two countries will help in promoting peace and prosperity in the entire region. So in today’s meeting, President Sisi and I decided to elevate our bilateral partnership to the level of ‘strategic partnership’,” Modi said in his media statement.
“We have decided that under the India-Egypt strategic partnership, we will develop a long-term framework of greater cooperation in political, security, economic and scientific fields,” he said.
The prime minister said India and Egypt are worried about the spread of terrorism around the world and the two sides are unanimous in the opinion that it is the most serious security threat to humanity.
“Both countries also agree that concerted action is necessary to end cross-border terrorism. And for this, together we will continue to try to alert the international community,” he said.
The Egyptian President echoed Modi’s views on terrorism and said united efforts are required to deal with the menace.
“We have similar views on dealing with terrorism and extremism,” he said.
The prime minister noted that there is immense potential for enhancing security and defence cooperation between India and Egypt.
“We have also decided in today’s meeting to further strengthen cooperation between our defence industries, and enhance the exchange of information and intelligence related to counter-terrorism,” he said.
“Misuse of cyber space to spread extremist ideologies and radicalisation is a growing menace. We will extend cooperation against this also,” Modi added.
In his remarks, Modi said he and Sisi held extensive discussions on strengthening the food and pharma supply chains affected by the Covid-19 pandemic and the Ukraine conflict.
“We also agreed on the need to increase mutual investment and trade in these areas. Together we have decided that in the next five years we will take our bilateral trade to 12 billion dollars,” he said.
At a media briefing, Kwatra said the decisions taken during the talks will be implemented in a time-bound manner.
Explaining the elevation of the bilateral ties to the level of strategic partnership, the foreign secretary said the focus would be on expanding cooperation in four key pillars — political and security, economic engagement, scientific and economic collaboration and wider cultural and people-to-people ties.
On defence collaboration, he said the aim is to boost ties in areas of defence training, military exercises, cooperation in the field of equipment and industrial partnership.
The Egyptian President previously visited India in October 2015 to participate in the third India-Africa Forum Summit which was followed by his state visit in September 2016.
This is for the first time that the President of Egypt has been invited as the chief guest to India’s Republic Day celebrations. A contingent from the Egyptian Army will also participate in the Republic Day parade.
India is keen to further expand ties with Egypt, a key player in the politics of both the Arab world as well as Africa. It is also seen as a major gateway to markets in Africa and Europe.
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