Cairo, Jul 3: Indian External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee on Wednesday, July 2 told media persons here that due to some reason or the other, the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) has lost its old grandeur and impetus. He was speaking after a 30-minute meeting with the Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak.
Mukherjee said: "We do not believe that NAM has lost its relevance. NAM is to be looked in a new perspective. The economic dimension of NAM, particularly, South-South cooperation has assumed a larger dimension, and this aspect is to be emphasized." On its relevance to both India and Egypt, Mukherjee said: "It is more relevant between Indian and Egypt, as at one point of time, Nasser, Nehru and Tito were considered to be the fountain heads of inspiration for NAM." The minister said that during his meeting with President Mubarak bilateral, regional and multilateral issues of importance to both countries were discussed.
Active ministerial visits from Egypt to India have been taking place since 2000, and from India to Egypt since 2001.
Dialogue with Egypt has followed a structured format through meetings of the bilateral Joint Commission, which has met in 1985, 1988, 1997, 2001 and 2006. Foreign Office consultations between the two countries have taken place on seven occasions between 1999 and 2007. India's Special Envoy for West Asia and the Middle East peace process, C R Garekhan, visited Cairo in February and September 2007 and again in April 2008.
Egyptian Foreign Minister Gheit visited India in the second week of December 2006. At that time, five agreements were inked, including a Partnership Agreement, an MoU on bilateral air services, a work plan on agricultural cooperation, an executive program on cultural exchanges and an executive program on cooperation in the field of science and technology.
In fiscal 2007, India was Egypt's fourth largest trading partner behind the United States, Italy and Saudi Arabia, and the largest importer of Egyptian goods in 2006 and 2007. A 51 percent growth in exports was witnessed in 2007 as compared to figures in 2006 (534 million dollars as opposed to 354.9 million dollars). Imports grew by 35 percent in the same period (1882.64 million dollars in 2007 as opposed to 1392.30 million dollars).