Morsi visit: India, Egypt Ink Seven Pacts

In a bid to strengthen bilateral ties, India and Egypt Tuesday signed seven key pacts after Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi held wide-ranging talks here, exploring ways to promote ties to the level of “strategic partnership”.

The two leaders also agreed to enhance cooperation in defense 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 here.

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.