INDIA AND EGYPT
Recent visit by Mr. Abdel Fattah AI-Sisi, President of the Arab Republic of Egypt to India has provided the much needed momentum to India-Egypt bilateral relations
At the invitation of the President of the Republic of India His Excellency Shri Pranab Mukherjee, the President of the Arab Republic of Egypt His Excellency Mr. Abdel Fattah AI-Sisi, paid a State Visit to India from 01-03 September, 2016. President AI-Sisi was accorded a ceremonial welcome at the forecourt of Rastrapati Bhawan. President AI-Sisi, thereafter, visited Rajghat and laid wreath at the Samadhi of Mahatma Gandhi, the father of the nation. The President of Egypt was accompanied by a high-level delegation comprising the Egyptian Minister of Foreign Affairs His Excellency Mr. Sameh Shoukry, Minister of Trade and Industry His Excellency Mr. Tarek Kabil, Minister of Finance His Excellency Mr. Amr El Garhy, senior officials and a business delegation.
During the visit, President of India Shri Pranab Mukherjee held a meeting with President AI-Sisi and also hosted a banquet in his honour. His Excellency Shri Mohammed Hamid Ansari, Vice-President of India called on President AI-Sisi and discussed issues of mutual concerns. His Excellency Shri Narendra Modi, Prime Minister of India held one to one meeting and extensive delegation level talks with President AI-Sisi and also hosted a luncheon in the Egyptian dignitary’s honour.
POLITICAL AND SECURITY COOPERATION
- The two leaders expressed their satisfaction at the bilateral engagement in recent years and agreed to continue regular engagement both at political leadership and official levels. Both the leaders noted with satisfaction the exchange of high-level visits and interactions during the last two years which included, inter-alia, External Affairs Minister Her Excellency Smt. Sushma Swaraj’s visit to Egypt in August 2015, Environment, Forest and Climate Change Minister His Excellency Shri Prakash Javedkar’s visit in March 2015, Road Transport and Highways and Shipping Minister His Excellency Shri Nitin Gadkari’s visit to Egypt in August 2015 and Special Envoy of Prime Minister His Excellency Shri Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi’s visit to Egypt in July 2015 and again in November 2015, His Excellency Mahfouz Saber, Minister of Justice’s visit to India in December 2014, Her Excellency Ms Fayza Aboul Naga, National Security Advisor’s visit to India in December 2015, His Excellency Shawky Allam, Grand Mufti of Egypt’s visit to India in March 2016, and finally His Excellency President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi’s visit to India to participate in tile 3rd Summit of the India-Africa Forum in October 2015, and have enhanced the bilateral relations. They also agreed to further intensify political exchanges and consultations at the Joint Commission and Foreign Office Consultation levels to take relations to greater heights.
- The two leaders agreed that India and Egypt enjoy strong, traditional and historical ties that have contributed to peace and development in their respective regions and beyond. Prime Minister Modi acknowledged the crucial role of Egypt in establishing peace and stability in the region.
- The two leaders welcomed the recent exchanges on security cooperation and counterterrorism at the level of National Security Advisers, and welcomed the conclusion of a Memorandum of Understanding for cooperation between the two National Security Councils. They also noted with satisfaction that the Joint Working Group on Counter Terrorism met in January 2016 for joint efforts in combating terrorism.
- The two leaders expressed their satisfaction that defence cooperation is taking place through regular exchanges. They welcomed the recent meeting of Joint Defence Committee and the visit of Egyptian delegation to Def Expo 2016 as steps towards further deepening and expansion of defence relations through high level visits, training, exercises, transit facilities, and hardware cooperation.
- Prime Minister Modi expressed gratitude to President AI-Sisi and the Government of the Arab Republic of Egypt for the repatriation in 2015 of the six Indian seamen who were detained in Egypt for two years.
- Prime Minister Modi thanked President Al-Sisi for the Egyptian participation in the World Sufi Forum held in New Delhi in March 2016. The participation of the Grand Mufti of Egypt enriched the content of the Forum.
- President Al-Sisi appreciated Prime Minister Modi’s gesture of supplying 20,000 MT of rice to Egypt at friendship price last month. The two leaders agreed to maintain the spirit of friendship and extend cooperation in other food items as well.
- Both leaders expressed their appreciation for the cooperation extended in the area of evacuating their nationals from areas of armed conflicts, such as the assistance extended by India to evacuate Egyptian citizens from Yemen in April 2015, and Egypt’s assistance in evacuating Indian citizens from Libya in 2011, and considered this cooperation as a reflection of the existing coordination between the two friendly nations.
- The two leaders exchanged views on a number of issues of bilateral and international interest including the latest developments in West Asia and North Africa region, the spread of extremism and radicalization and the scourge of terrorism. They also discussed the need for reform of the United Nations.
- The two leaders affirmed the need to achieve a comprehensive and permanent solution to the Arab-Israeli conflict on the basis of the UN Security Council resolutions, the relevant UN resolutions, Madrid Peace Conference of 1991 and the 2002 Arab Peace Initiative in Beirut, in implementation of the two-state principle on the establishment of an independent and sovereign Palestine State with East Jerusalem as its capital, living in peace side by side with the State of Israel within secure and recognized borders. They also sought a comprehensive and just solution to the Palestinian refugees’ cause in accordance with resolution 194 of the UN General Assembly and the Arab Peace Initiative, in a way that preserves security, stability and peace of all the countries in the region. Both the leaders urged the two parties to start negotiations. Prime Minister Modi appreciated President AI-Sisi’s call for peace between the Palestinians and the Israelis and Egypt’s continuing efforts in this regard.
- Both leaders emphasized the need for cessation of hostilities in Syria and expressed concern over humanitarian crisis in the country. They called for a comprehensive and peaceful resolution of the Syrian conflict through a Syrian-led political process, bringing all parties to the conflict to the negotiating table and taking into account the legitimate aspirations of the people of Syria. Both leaders welcomed all initiatives in this direction for implementation of relevant UNSC Resolutions.
- Both leaders expressed their strong support for the people and the Government of Iraq in their efforts to overcome the existing crisis to uphold Iraq’s national sovereignty and territorial integrity. Condemning attempts to external interference in the internal affairs of Iraq, the two leaders emphasized the importance of national reconciliation and unity in Iraq, including by strengthening of national democratic institutions.
- Both leaders expressed deep concern over the current political and security situation in Yemen. They affirmed their full support for the unity and territorial integrity of Yemen and respect for Yemen’s sovereignty. They emphasized the need for a political solution in line with the relevant UN Security Council Resolutions especially UNSCR 2216 (2015).
- Both leaders welcomed the adoption of UNSC Resolution 2259 on Libya and urged all parties in Libya to extend their support for Libya’s national unity government as provided in the Libyan Political Agreement. They called on the Libyan political entities to pursue the interests of the Libyan people and to combat terrorism as its main priority.
- The two leaders strongly condemned terrorism in all its forms and manifestations. They considered terrorism to be one of the gravest threats to international peace and security. They reaffirmed their resolve to strengthen cooperation in combating terrorism at all levels. They also reaffirmed their resolve to work together at UN on concluding the Comprehensive Convention on International Terrorism (CCIT).
- Both leaders emphasized the importance of intensifying bilateral coordination at all levels with regard to issues pertaining to the work of the United Nations Security Council, in light of Egypt’s current non-permanent membership in the Council for the term 2016/2017, and India’s candidacy for the non-permanent membership of the Council for the term 2021/2022, with a view to ensuring the credibility of the Security Council, and supporting a balanced approach in addressing all the issues on its agenda.
- The two leaders affirmed their commitment to achieve a comprehensive reform of the United Nations, including the revitalization of the General Assembly as the only universal organ representing all member states. They emphasized the need for a comprehensive reform of the Security Council, including by expanding its membership and enhancing the representation of developing countries. They acknowledged, in this context, the need to correct the historical injustice that the African continent continues to endure. Egypt reiterated its aspiration to cooperate with India during its expected non-permanent membership at the Security Council for the term 2021-22.
- The two leaders highlighted the leading role of India and Egypt in the maintenance of international peace and security, being among the ten largest troop and police contributing countries in United Nations missions. In this context, they reaffirmed the importance of ensuring participation of troop-contributing countries in the decision making process with regard to UN peacekeeping operations. The two leaders highlighted their commitment to enhance bilateral cooperation in the field of peacekeeping, including in training, and enhancing collaboration between the Cairo Regional Centre for Conflict Resolution and Peacekeeping in Africa (Egypt) and the Centre for UN Peacekeeping (India).
- To tackle the challenges of adverse impacts of climate change, the two leaders highlighted the importance of a global approach based on the principles and provisions of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and its Paris Agreement in particular the principles of Equity, and the Common but Differentiated Responsibilities (CBDR). Both leaders emphasized that enhanced support from developed countries to developing countries and the provision of adequate, predictable and sustainable means of implementation in particular finance, technology transfer and capacity building is a corner stone for the realization of the globally agreed commitments to tackle climate change.
ECONOMIC ENGAGEMENT AND SCIENTIFIC COLLABORATION
- Both leaders highlighted the importance of growing bilateral economic interaction in recent years. They welcomed the expansion of Indian investment in Egypt, which is currently about US$ 3 billion. They agreed that all investment related issues should be addressed in order to further boost bilateral trade and investments.
- The two leaders agreed to encourage companies and corporations from their respective countries to explore emerging economic and investment opportunities in each other’s countries. Prime Minister Modi welcomed Egyptian investments in India under the ‘Make in India’ initiative, in the manufacturing and services sectors. President Al-Sisi invited Indian participation in the Suez Canal Economic Zone, particularly in sectors such as petro-chemicals, energy, agriculture, healthcare, education, skills and IT.
- The two leaders noted the importance of trade expansion and diversification and welcomed the outcomes of the Third Joint Trade Committee meeting held in Cairo in March 2016. They also appreciated the recommendations provided by the India-Egypt Joint Business Council and urged the private sector of both countries to expand bilateral trade and investment and strengthen business partnerships.
- Both the leaders reaffirmed their interest in enhancing bilateral cooperation in the field of science & technology to boost research and innovation partnership between research institutions and universities of the two countries.
- The two leaders agreed to collaborate in the field of information and communications technology; agriculture; biotechnology; renewable and non-conventional energy; and skills development and encouraged full participation of the private sector enterprises in these endeavours.
- The two leaders agreed to expand cooperation in the field of space utilising India’s expertise in launching satellites and other advances in space technology. They agreed to explore the possibilities of joint projects on space application under existing institutional arrangements.
- The two leaders expressed their appreciation for the Pan African E-network Project at Alexandria University that specialises in tele-medicine and tele-education. They also welcomed the completion of two Indian development projects in Egypt, the establishment of a textile vocational training centre in Shubra el Kheima, which would benefit the people of Egypt, as well as solar electrification of Agaween Village. The two leaders agreed to continue to cooperate closely in these areas.
CULTURAL EXCHANGES AND PEOPLE-TO-PEOPLE CONTACTS
- The two leaders noted that the Executive Program for Cultural, Educational and Scientific Cooperation for the years 2016-19 is to be extended soon. They agreed that in order to strengthen civilizational links and in a view towards the future, there should be more cultural and academic exchanges to promote closer understanding and linkages, especially among the youth.
- Prime Minister Modi was pleased to announce that the first Indian Chair in the Arab world was established in Ain Shams University, Cairo and an Indian professor of Biotechnology would begin his tenure shortly.
- The two leaders agreed that a special and enlarged “India by the Nile Festival” would be held in 2017 to commemorate the 70th anniversary of India’s independence. They also welcomed the proposal to have the inaugural “Egypt by the Ganga Festival” in 2017.
- The two leaders concurred that the signing of the Agreement on Maritime Transport between India and Egypt during the visit will further intensify bilateral cooperation by facilitating not only maritime commerce but also transit of naval vessels.
- President Al-Sisi expressed his gratitude and appreciation to Prime Minister Modi, leadership of India and to the people of India for the warm reception and hospitality accorded to him and the members of his delegation during their stay. He also congratulated Prime Minister Modi for the success of his government’s initiatives and achievements over the past two years under his able leadership. Prime Minister Modi congratulated President AI-Sisi on what has been accomplished in the last two years in promoting peace, stability and economic growth in Egypt, and the conclusion of the transitional road map of Egypt that culminated with the Parliamentary Elections late 2015. He also congratulated President AI-Sisi on the inauguration of the New Suez Canal and all the development projects being implemented with it. Both Leaders also expressed their commitment towards development of Africa. President Al-Sisi extended an invitation to the President of India and Prime Minister Modi to visit Egypt at a mutually convenient time, which was gladly accepted.
( Source: India- Egypt Joint Statement during the visit of President of Egypt to India, September 02, 2016)