Mubarak’s visit to open new horizons in ties: PM

November 15th, 2008 - 9:07 pm ICT by IANS  

Manmohan SinghNew Delhi, Nov 15 (IANS) India is set to open “new horizons” of cooperation with Egypt, one of the heavyweights in the Arab world and a co-founder of the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM), when President Hosni Mubarak arrives here Sunday on his first visit to the country in a quarter century. “Mubarak’s visit will open new horizons for cooperation and give a strong momentum to bilateral ties,” Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has said in an interview published in Egypt’s semi-official daily Al-Ahram.

“Cooperation between the two developing countries can help establish new world order based on equality and justice,” Manmohan Singh said.

“India eyes closer ties with Egypt in line with our own priorities and needs.”

The two countries can cooperate to solve many international issues, such as energy security, food security, climate change and combat against terrorism, Manmohan Singh said while hailing India-Egypt ties as “very special”.

Pointing out that bilateral trade between India and Egypt jumped from $700 million in late 1990 to $3 billion in 2007, the prime minister said the two countries are now eyeing an ambitious target of $10 billion trade by 2010.

Underlining growing cooperation in the areas of technology, IT, space and science, the prime minister said there are promising opportunities of joint ventures between Indian and Egyptian companies operating in the domain of information technology.

Describing the Egypt-India relations as “strong and stable”, Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmed Aboul Gheit said in Cairo Friday that the visit will help the two countries to “reconsolidate ties” in the light of a quantum jump in commercial and economic relations over last several years.

Egypt welcomes Indian investments, especially in fields of textiles, IT, and petrol mining, he said.

Mubarak, Egypt’s ruler for nearly three decades, will hold delegation-level talks with Manmohan Singh Tuesday on a wide range of bilateral, regional and global issues.

Increasing trade and investment between India and Egypt, terrorism, UN reforms and the Middle East peace process in which Egypt is an influential player and stakeholder will be among the issues that will figure prominently in discussions.

The two leaders are likely to discuss the global financial crisis and discuss steps about cushioning developing countries from the economic meltdown.

India’s participation in a cross-border railway network that includes the extension of rail lines from Egypt to Libya and Sudan is also expected to come up for discussions.

Five senior ministers and top business leaders are accompanying Mubarak on this important visit that seeks to impart a fresh momentum to bilateral ties.

Several economic and cultural agreements are expected to be signed during the visit.

Mubarak’s visit will also be a rediscovery of India for the Egyptian leader as India’s profile has changed since he last visited the country in 1983.

Even as Chinese exports and investment flood Cairo, Egypt, North Africa’s economic hub, is looking at India afresh as a rising knowledge and economic power that could make closer cooperation a win-win partnership.

In a gesture underlining warmth in bilateral ties, President Pratibha Patil will formally present the Jawaharlal Nehru Award for International Understanding, which was announced in 1995, to Mubarak at an elegant ceremony in the capital Tuesday.

India is also hoping that when Mubarak has tea with Manmohan Singh Tuesday during the delegation-level talks, he feels inspired enough to encourage the export of Indian tea to Egyptian market - a long-standing wish of Indian tea exporters.

India is also looking at Egypt’s strategic location afresh as it makes that country a gateway to the 20-country Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA), the 27-nation European Union and the Arab Free Trade Area.

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