By: Shubham Ghosh
India and Egypt have reaffirmed their commitment to the founding values of the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM), international law and respect for the sovereignty and territorial integrity of all states.
It was mentioned in a joint statement released on Thursday, a day after Indian prime minister Narendra Modi and visiting Egyptian president Abdel Fattah El-Sisi held wide-ranging talks covering bilateral, regional and global issues of mutual interest.
On economic ties, the statement mentioned that the Egyptian side is considering the possibility of allocating a special area of land for the Indian industries in the Suez Canal Economic Zone (SCEZ), adding that “the Indian side can arrange for the master plan”. The Suez Canal, connecting the Mediterranean Sea with the Red Sea, is one of the world’s busiest trade routes.
About 12 per cent of the global trade passes through the canal each day. The statement said India would encourage its companies, which have the potential to establish overseas investments, to make use of the available investment opportunities in Egypt.
“In this context, the Egyptian side considers the possibility of allocating a special area of land for the Indian industries in the Suez Canal Economic Zone (SCEZ), and the Indian side can arrange for the master plan,” it said.
The Egyptian president, who arrived in India on a three-day visit on Tuesday (24), attended the Republic Day celebrations as the chief guest.
The joint statement noted that Modi and Sisi reviewed the status of the bilateral relationship based on the pillars of closer political and security cooperation, deeper economic engagement, stronger scientific and academic collaboration as well as wider cultural and people-to-people contacts.
“The two countries reaffirmed their commitment to multilateralism, the principles of the United Nations Charter, international law, the founding values of the Non-Aligned Movement, and respect for the sovereignty and territorial integrity of all states,” the statement said.
Though it did not mention any context or country, the reference to sovereignty and territorial integrity of states came amid growing global concerns over China’s aggressive military muscle flexing and the Russian invasion of Ukraine.
“The two sides take into consideration the cultural and social sensitivities of all states and, in this regard, they agreed to work together to promote and safeguard these basic principles through regular consultations and coordination at bilateral and multilateral levels,” the statement mentioned.
It said Modi and Sisi expressed concern over the spread of terrorism across the world and agreed that it poses one of the most serious security threats to humanity. “Both leaders condemned the use of terrorism as a foreign policy tool. They called for ‘zero tolerance’ for terrorism and for all those who encourage, support and finance terrorism or provide sanctuaries to terrorists and terror groups — whatever their motivation may be,” the statement said.
It said the two leaders emphasised the need for concerted and coordinated action by the international community, with the objective of eradicating terrorism in all its forms and manifestations, including cross-border terrorism.
“They reiterated their condemnation of efforts, including by States, to use religion to justify, support and sponsor terrorism against other countries,” it said. “They also called upon all countries to work towards rooting out terrorist networks and their safe havens, infrastructure, their financing channels and preventing cross-border movements of terrorists,” the statement added.
Both leaders reiterated their common resolve in promoting the values of peace, tolerance and inclusiveness and making concerted efforts to fight terrorism and violent extremist ideologies.
“They emphasised the need for a holistic approach to counter terrorism and violent extremism, which includes inter alia disrupting the use of the internet and social media and preventing the use of religious centres to radicalise youth and recruit terrorist cadres,” the statement said. It said Modi and Sisi also agreed on the need to hold the joint working group meeting on counter-terrorism on a regular basis to exchange information and best practices.
The two sides agreed on enhancing the interaction between their respective national security councils. The joint statement said the two leaders look forward to deepening cooperation in the field of agriculture and allied services, while noting the importance of strengthening the supply chain of food articles.