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India, Egypt ink seven pacts after PM, Morsi talks

India, Egypt ink seven pacts after PM, Morsi talks

Morsi, who stressed on deeper economic ties, also pitched for increased Indian investment in Egypt's ambitious Suez Canal project.

New Delhi: In a bid to strengthen bilateral ties, India and Egypt on Tuesday signed seven key pacts after Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi held wide-ranging talks in New Delhi, exploring ways to promote ties to the level of "strategic partnership". The two leaders also agreed to enhance cooperation in defence and in international forums like the UN.

Morsi, who stressed on deeper economic ties, also pitched for increased Indian investment in Egypt's ambitious Suez Canal project. "President Morsi and I have just concluded extensive and very productive discussions... We agreed that his visit, at an important juncture for Egypt, offers us a great opportunity to renew our relationship and take it to a different level of engagement and cooperation," Singh said after concluding talks with Morsi.

Expressing admiration for the courage and sacrifices of the people of Egypt in ushering in a new era of democracy, Singh said India has offered to share its experience as Morsi "ably leads his nation in building strong institutions and frameworks for democracy, social justice and inclusive economic development".

"I am convinced that Egypt's successful transition would be an important model for the region and the world," he said. On his part, Morsi called Singh a "noble brother" and said his visit shows that Egypt is keen to cooperate with India.

The visiting dignitary also welcomed Indian companies' contribution in the nearly 200KM-long Suez Canal free trade zone project under which Egypt plans to turn the banks into a global economic zone. Morsi said that in his talks with Singh, both sides discussed means to rejuvenate ties in various fields, including political, economic, military, cultural and tourism and "agreed to promote ties till they reach the level of strategic partnership".

Egypt should become the "hub of Indian exports to Africa", said Morsi who came to power after Egypt's first democratic elections last year that were held after the 30-year-old iron-clasp rule of former strongman Hosni Mubarak came to an end in February 2011 following a series of anti-regime protests known as Arab Spring.

Underlining that India and Egypt have enormous potential for deepening cooperation across the full spectrum of ties, Prime Minister Singh said economic partnership has "rich possibilities". "We agreed that information technology, services, electronics, small and medium enterprises, manufacturing, fertilisers and renewable energy constitute important areas of cooperation.

Egypt's location, as a bridge between Asia and Africa, astrides a major global trade route and together with its skilled human resources makes it an attractive business destination for India, he said. "We also agreed to enhance our defence exchanges and cooperation," he said.

"The agreements that we have signed today are a clear manifestation of our desire to impart a new dynamism to our relationship," he said. The seven agreements signed included an MoU in the field of cyber security, setting up of a Centre for Excellence in IT (CEIT) in Egypt's Al Azhar University, cooperation in the field of protection of intellectual property rights and prevention of illicit traffic of antiquities besides others.

The MoUs was also signed to identify a number of core areas which would be the focus of cooperation. These include e-governance and e-education, IT and electronics hardware, sharing of experiences in the creation of Technology Parks and IT clusters among others.

Another MoU facilitates sharing of information, meetings between enterprises, technology transfers and to provide consultation services to enhance the abilities of business enterprises of India and Egypt. A letter of Intent concerning launch services of the Egyptian Nano Satellite EGYCUBESAT-1 on board the Indian Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV) was signed between Antrix Corporation, the commercial wing of Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO), and the Egyptian National Authority for Remote Sensing and Space Sciences (NARSS).

The two leaders also exchanged views on a range of regional and international issues. Singh said the two leaders also discussed the deteriorating situation in Syria and condemned the violence and loss of innocent lives there.

first published:March 19, 2013, 20:35 IST