New Delhi: Signalling a major shift in ties, India and Egypt on Friday decided to step up their overall defence and security cooperation to tackle the twin challenges of terrorism and radicalisation besides enhancing economic and trade engagements.
A series of decisions to combat terrorism were taken in wide-ranging talks between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and President of Egypt Abdel Fattah al-Sisi as the two countries have been engaged in staving off the threat of extremism and radicalism.
Identifying terrorism as one of the "gravest threats", they decided to have greater information and operational exchanges, apart from ramping up defence cooperation. Both sides also inked a pact on maritime transport which will facilitate maritime commerce and transit of naval vessels.
The Prime Minister said the two countries agreed on an "action oriented agenda" to drive the engagements in a range of sectors while Sisi resolved to work towards a robust security cooperation with India and lay out a roadmap for intensification of trade and investment.
"President and I are of one view that growing radicalisation, increasing violence and spread of terror pose a real threat not just to our two countries, but, also to nations and communities across regions.
"In this context, we agreed to further our defence and security engagement which would aim at expanding defence trade, training and capacity building," Modi said at joint media interaction with Sisi. Modi said both sides have also agreed on greater information and operational exchanges to combat terror.
Cooperation on emerging challenges of cyber security and working together to fight drug trafficking, transnational crimes and money-laundering were other key decisions taken at the meeting.
Complimenting Sisi's leadership, Modi called him "a man of many achievements", both at home and abroad, and said "1.25 billion people of India are happy to see you in India.
Egypt itself is a natural bridge that connects Asia with Africa. Your people are a voice of moderate Islam." For India, Egypt is a strategically located country which is a crucial link between northeast Africa and the Middle East. After coming to power two years back, Sisi has initiated major reforms to strengthen Egyptian economy.
On trade ties, the Prime Minister said it was decided to deepen cooperation in agriculture, skill development, small and medium industry and health sectors to diversify the portfolio of economic engagement.
"We recognised that strong trade and investment linkages are essential for economic prosperity of our societies. We, therefore, agreed that increased flow of goods, services, and capital between our two economies has to be among our key priorities," said Modi.