India, Egypt vow to make up for lost time, rebuild ties

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New Delhi, Nov 18 (UNI) After a hiatus which lasted a quarter of a century, India and Egypt have agreed to ''make up for lost time'' and elevate bilateral relations to new levels corresponding to contemporary realities and decided to set up a Strategic Dialogue at the Foreign Ministerial level.

The two contries, which together founded the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) and claim to have 2000-year-old relations, also signed six agreements including Extradition Treaty and for cooperation in space, trade and technology, health, agriculture and easing of visa regulations.

The decisions were taken at delegation-level talks between Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and visiting Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak who came to India after 25 years.

He had last visited India in 1981, the year he became the President, and in 1983.

Observing that the visit had opened ''a new chapter'' in Indo-Egyptian relations, the Prime Minister said time had come for the two countries to ''re-kindle'' the special nature of bilateral ties based upon immense goodwill.

The two countries also agreed that all conditions were ripe for transforming bilateral relations to correspond to contemporary realities.

''We have agreed to make up for lost time and to elevate our relations to a level that reflects our mutual strengths and complementarities,'' Dr Singh said.

A senior official accompanying President Mubarak on his four-day State visit to India, when asked why President Mubarak had not visited India for 25 years, said ''Egypt, like India, was engaged in economic reforms. So President Mubarak did not get time to visit India.'' President Mubarak, at the delegation-level talks with the Prime Minister, paid tributes to the introduction of economic reforms in India.

''I am aware of the great reforms introduced by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh...Both countries are economic success stories,'' he said.

The two leaders who held delegation-level talks here today, also agreed that the two countries would cooperate in political and economic fields and against terrorism.

President Mubarak who was conferred the prestigious Jawaharlal Nahru Award for International Understanding in 1995, did not come to India to receive the award. He was presented the award today.

Speaking after receiving the award, he sought India's partnership in tackling the challenges facing the world.

Recalling Jawaharlal Nehru's vision and approach to world relations, Mr Mubarak said ''they were needed the most today when conflicts and global economic crisis, food security and climate change were threatening to destablisise the world.'' ''By joining hands with India, we will be able to contribute in tackling these affectively,'' he added.

The Egyptian President said Pandit Nehru's life and legacy continued to be source of inspiration to the whole world.

He underlined that Pandit Nehru and Egyptian leader Jamal Abdul Nasser inspired the struggle against colonialism and said ''the Non-Aligned Movement was alive even today.'' Earlier conferring the award on Hosni Mubarak, President Pratibha Patil said Mr Mubarak symbolised the aspirations of NAM countries.

UNI RB/NAZ RP PK KP1940

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