Opening remarks by External Affairs Minister, Dr. S. Jaishankar at the Press Conference with the Foreign Minister of Egypt

October 15, 2022

Thank you, Excellency!

Let me say what a great pleasure it is to be here on my first official visit as the Minister of External Affairs. As Minister Shoukry pointed out, my visit takes place as we mark 75 years of our diplomatic relations. So, it is a matter of particular pride and pleasure that I could be here at this time.

In the last few years because of Covid, I think international exchanges of many countries were disrupted. But this year, I think the fact that I am here and just a few weeks ago, our Defence minister, who is a very senior minister in our cabinet was also here. I think it underlines our commitment to take our bilateral relationship with Egypt to a higher level.

Our political cooperation, has historically been strong. We have a number of Institutions. Some of them have been meeting regularly, some of them are due to meet. Our Political consultations with the next round, will take place early next year. We hope to do a meeting of our counterterrorism working group as well. But overall, we've always had good political understanding and certainly today's meeting and discussions I think have enhanced it.

In recent times, we have also stepped up our defence and security cooperation. You would all be aware that we did some important exercises between our Airforce. We've had regular ship visits to Egypt. There have been discussions on how we can collaborate more closely on the defence side, especially in defence production. Trade and commerce has again seen a very big increase. Last year was our highest ever trade- in excess of 7.2 billion dollars. It was a big jump. Today, we reviewed that. We agreed that there were possibilities for still further growth. That both of us must work to address Market Access issues that we might have respectively.

Investment has also been very positive. Indian companies today have a recorded investment of more than 3 billion dollars and we have again close to about a billion dollars in the pipeline. And we see a lot of new possibilities. I shared with the Minister some of what we are picking up from industry, new possibilities here, particularly in renewable energy. So, we again very optimistic on that score.

We discussed how to increase air connectivity, how to grow tourism and we agreed that on this, our Ministries and our Ambassadors will work more in a focused manner. We have had a long exchange of capacity building and training exchanges as well. More than 1400 officials of Egypt and representatives in different fields have been to India in different capacities. It's a very good tradition of friendship. We would certainly like to see that continue. When it comes to education. I'm pleased to share with you, that one of our universities has reached an understanding with an Egyptian enterprise to establish a tertiary education institution here. We hope very much that some of our technology institutes who are looking for international collaboration, would find Egypt a suitable partner.

After the Covid, health is an important concern for all of us. We have an excellent history of vaccine collaboration. We believe that greater cooperation in drugs and pharmaceuticals will be mutually beneficial. Many of our companies do see Egypt as a production hub for this region. Perhaps even for other parts of Africa.

As the minister stated we had a discussion, what is happening in our respective societies. I was very impressed to learn about the progress of the Haya Karima initiative. We have today a very major effort underway in India to build, a more inclusive society and a large part of it is based on effective digital delivery. So, we agreed that perhaps an exchange of best practices and the meeting between the institutions overseeing this may be mutually beneficial.

On global affairs, both, India and Egypt, we are both civilization states. We have a tradition of thinking beyond our narrow national interests. We've always been interested in the world, involved with the world, and we have again, a history of working together, in that regard. We obviously spent some time discussing the Ukraine conflict and its repercussions for fertilizers, for food, for energy security. I shared with the Minister my perspectives on the Indo-Pacific. He spoke about his views. We discussed how to create a more resilient global economy. I heard from him about the issues of this region. I think particularly we had an exchange of views on the Palestine issue.

So, overall, my sense today is, it's been a good day for our bilateral relationship. We will be able to give stronger guidance to our systems, how to go forward. I think it's been a good meeting of minds Minister, on international issues.

As I said, we have a history of close working together in different forums and it is a matter for us, a particular pleasure that when our chairmanship of the G20, starts in December this year that we have invited Egypt to be a guest for our Chairship Period. So it is, I think something of great value that Egypt would bring to the G20 discussions.

And finally, we are very, very supportive of Egypt's chairing of the COP 27. And it is the struggle for climate action, and to ensure climate justice is something which all Global South countries feel strongly about. So, I assured the minister of our fullest support.

Thank you once again.

October 15, 2022


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