India, Egypt ink space, extradition pacts, to forge strategic ties (Lead)November 18th, 2008 - 6:22 pm ICT by IANS
New Delhi, Nov 18 (IANS) India and Egypt, co-founders of the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM), Tuesday decided to give a strategic thrust to their ties by signing five accords, including an extradition treaty, and agreed to push for reform of the global economic system. Considering India’s technological prowess, the two countries signed a crucial agreement on cooperation on the uses of outer space - a key step towards transforming ties that had languished due to Cold War politics in the 1980s into a broadbased strategic partnership.
They also agreed to establish a strategic dialogue at the level of foreign ministers and jointly fight terrorism.
The decision “reflects our desire to upgrade our relations”, Manmohan Singh said after talks with Egyptian President Mubarak at a joint press conference here.
Manmohan Singh and Mubarak held “productive and fruitful” talks on a wide range of issues, including the intensification of economic and strategic ties, terrorism, food and energy security, the global financial crisis and the peace process in the Middle East.
“The visit has opened a new chapter in our relations. We have both agreed that all conditions are ripe for transforming relations to correspond to contemporary realities,” Manmohan Singh underlined while lauding the Egyptian leader as “a great statesman and a highly respected world leader”.
“We have agreed to make up for lost time, and to elevate our relations to a level that reflects our mutual strengths and complementarities,” the prime minister stressed.
The two sides signed a memorandum of understanding on abolishing visa requirements for holders of diplomatic, special and official passports from either country. Another MOU on enhancing cooperation in the fields of health and medicine was also inked.
External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee and his Egyptian counterpart Ahmed Aboul Gheit signed these agreements in the presence of Manmohan Singh and Mubarak.
Mubarak, who has ruled Egypt for nearly three decades, is visiting New Delhi after a quarter century to lay “a sound basis for a vibrant strategic partnership” with India.
The visiting Egyptian leader, who arrived here Sunday on a four-day visit, was accorded a ceremonial welcome in the forecourt of Rashtrapati Bhavan (presidential palace) Tuesday morning before talks with Manmohan Singh began.
Commerce Minister Kamal Nath signed an accord on trade and technical cooperation with his Egyptian counterpart Engineer Rasheed Mohamed Rasheed - a move aimed at accelerating sluggish economic ties between the two countries.
Pointing to a bilateral trade of $3 billion, the Indian prime minister emphasised this was “much below the potential” and called for expanding cooperation in areas such as hydrocarbons, IT, agriculture and biotechnology.
Mubarak called for “collective action” against terrorism and sought to revitalise NAM.
The Egyptian leader underlined the need for joint action by developed and developing countries “to reshape the international economic order” in the wake of the meltdown.
Mubarak detailed a two-pronged coordinated action plan to tackle the global recession. He stressed it required cooperation between developed and developing countries to address the “recessionary pressures in the world economy” and to “restructure the international financial architecture.”
The Egyptian leader underlined “joint efforts” to promote reforms of the UN and “proper representation of world regions” in international financial institutions “to defend the interests of the G77 and NAM.”
“Any proposals for reshaping the present economic order need to be discussed in broadly based fora,” he said.
Manmohan Singh conveyed to Mubarak India’s support to the Palestinian cause and underlined the importance of peace and stability in the Middle East for India’s vital interests in the region. He also lauded Egypt’s role in the Middle East peace process.
Mubarak also thanked India for its “key role” in the security of the Middle East and appreciated New Delhi’s support for the Palestinian cause and its “efforts to bring peace and stability to the region.”
Mubarak invited Manmohan Singh to visit his country and announced that Cairo will be hosting the 15th NAM summit next year.
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Tags: egyptian counterpart, egyptian president mubarak, external affairs minister, external affairs minister pranab mukherjee, extradition treaty, global economic system, global financial crisis, manmohan singh, politics in the 1980s, technological prowess