New Delhi, Sep 1 (IANS) Egyptian President Abdel Fattah Al Sisi, who arrived here on Thursday on a three-day visit at the invitation of President Pranab Mukherjee, described his country’s ties with India as old and “very resilient”.
He said this when External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj called on him here on Thursday evening.
This is the first presidential visit from Egypt to India since 2013 when then President Mohamed Morsi visited New Delhi.
“President Sisi said India and Egypt had centuries old ties which had remained ‘very resilient’,” External Affairs Ministry spokesperson Vikas Swarup told the media after the meeting
He said the Egyptian President recalled his previous meetings with Prime Minister Narendra Modi and expressed his desire to take the bilateral relationship to a new level
Sisi spoke about his government’s efforts to upgrade infrastructure and said that Egypt was keen to work in partnership with all “those who want to work with us”.
“He positively assessed the role of Indian investment in Egypt which had touched $3 billion and sought greater trade and investment ties with India,” Swarup said.
“He also expressed appreciation for India’s recent supply of 20,000 tonnes of rice at very short notice when Egypt was faced with a shortage.”
According to the spokesperson, Sushma Swaraj recalled her own association with Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Hassan Shoukry whom she had met in Bahrain as well as Cairo and said she would be inviting him shortly to India for the meeting of the joint commission between the two countries.
She said that India-Egypt trade was still below potential.
“In this context, she outlined some of the far reaching economic reforms and flagship initiatives which the Modi government had launched which offered enormous potential for further diversification of trade and investment ties with Egypt,” Swarup said.
“She said that apart from rice, Egypt could import Indian wheat and milk, in both of which India was a world leader.”
The issue of fighting terrorism also came up with Sushma Swaraj saying that the visit of Sisi also afforded an opportunity to upgrade security ties and anti-terror cooperation with Egypt.
“In this context she mentioned the need for early finalisation of the Comprehensive Convention on International Terrorism (CCIT) at the UN,” Swarup said.
“President Sisi concurred, and said that he wanted to take anti-terror cooperation to a whole new level. In particular, he urged strong collective action against radicalisation and recruitment for terrorism,” he said.
According to the spokesperson, apart from cooperation in tourism and people-to-people ties, there was also a brief discussion on consular issues between the two leaders.
Sushma Swaraj also agreed with Sisi’s assessment that his visit would lead to a “quantum leap in bilateral ties”, according to Swarup.
Sisi, who is being accompanied by a high-level delegation comprising ministers, officials and business leaders, will hold bilateral talks with Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Friday which will be followed by signing of agreements.
The Egyptian President will be hosted for a banquet by President Mukherjee later in the evening.