Egyptian president to hold talks with Indian premier

Other News Materials 18 November 2008 12:09 (UTC +04:00)

Egyptian President Hosny Mubarak, who is on a four-day state visit to India to strengthen strategic and economic ties, was scheduled to hold talks Tuesday with Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, reported dpa.

Singh and Mubarak, who was visiting India for the first time in 25 years, were expected to discuss enhancing economic ties as well as cooperation in world bodies like the United Nations and World Trade Organization, diplomatic officials said.

The Egyptian leader - accompanied by a 150-member delegation, including five senior ministers and leading businessmen - was accorded a ceremonial reception earlier in the day at the presidential palace in New Delhi.

India and Egypt have a long history of cooperation and are founding members of the non-aligned movement.

"The world has changed since [Gamal Abdul] Nasser and [Jawaharlal] Nehru," Mubarak said in an interview with the Times of India newspaper, referring to the post-colonial leaders of Egypt and India, respectively. "However, our two countries still face the same challenges of globalization and shape their policies and priorities accordingly."

At a meeting of Indian and Egyptian business leaders and officials Monday, Mubarak sought further investment by Indian companies in Egypt, the PTI news agency reported.

Indian companies like Tata Chemicals, Reliance Industries, the Aditya Birla Group and state-run firms like the Oil and Natural Gas Corp and the Gas Authority of India Ltd have already invested more than 800 million dollars in Egypt.

Egypt has proposed setting up an industrial zone exclusively for Indian companies.

Mubarak also said that while bilateral trade had tripled over the past four years, there was room for further expansion.

He said Egypt's strategic location and its trade agreements with the European Union and common market for Eastern and Southern Africa threw up important opportunities for Indian business leaders.

Bilateral trade between the two countries was 3.5 billion dollars in 2007.

Several economic and cultural agreements were expected to be signed after Mubarak's meeting with Singh, according to officials of India's Ministry of External Affairs.

Mubarak was also scheduled to receive the Jawaharlal Nehru Award for International Understanding, which was given to him by the Indian government in 1995.

Past recipients of the award include former South African president Nelson Mandela, former UN secretary general U-Thant, charity worker Mother Teresa and US civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr.

Indian President Pratibha Patil is to host a banquet for Mubarak Tuesday. The Egyptian leader was also scheduled to meet Sonia Gandhi, chairwoman of India's governing United Progressive Alliance.

He was scheduled to leave for Cairo Wednesday.