India and Egypt on Friday decided to significantly step up their defence and security cooperation to effectively deal with twin challenges of terrorism and radicalisation as Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi held talks covering the entire expanse of ties.
With both India and Egypt engaged in fighting terrorism, the two leaders identified the menace as one of the "gravest threats" and decided to have greater information and operational exchanges to combat it, besides ramping up defence cooperation.
"We are of one view that growing radicalisation, violence and spread of terror are a real threat across regions," Modi said after talks with the President of the strategically located country which is a crucial link between northeast Africa and the Middle East.
The two countries also decided to expand trade and commercial ties holding that there are huge opportunities to exploit untapped economic opportunities in the two countries. An MoU on maritime shipping was also signed.
The Prime Minister said the two countries agreed on an "action oriented agenda" to drive the engagements in a range of sectors apart from deciding to expand defence trade, training and capacity building.
Sisi, who arrived here yesterday on a three-day visit, said his government will work towards a robust security cooperation with India besides laying out a roadmap for intensification of bilateral trade and investment cooperation.
"The two leaders strongly condemned terrorism in all its forms and manifestations. They considered terrorism to be one of the gravest threats to international peace and security. They reaffirmed their resolve to strengthen cooperation in combating terrorism at all levels.
"They also reaffirmed their resolve to work together at UN on concluding the Comprehensive Convention on International Terrorism (CCIT)," a joint statement issued after the talks said.
The Prime Minister, in his statement to media said, 1.25 billion people of India are happy that the Egyptian President is here and that both of them have agreed to build on multiple pillars of cooperation between the two sides.
Calling the talks very productive, Sisi said a large number of issues ranging from tackling terror, expanding trade ties to dealing with challenge of climate change were deliberated upon, adding that there was "major conversion" of views on them.
The two leaders welcomed the recent exchanges on security cooperation and counter-terrorism at the level of National Security Advisers and the conclusion of a MoU for cooperation between the two National Security Councils.
In his comments, Modi hailed Sisi as a "man of many achievements" and said Egypt, a natural bridge connecting Asia with Africa, has always "championed" causes of developing countries.
Referring to defence ties, the two leaders expressed their satisfaction that defence cooperation is taking place through regular exchanges and welcomed deepening and expansion of defence relations through high level visits, training, exercises, transit facilities, and hardware cooperation.
In the meeting, Sisi appreciated Modi's gesture of supplying 20,000 MT of rice to Egypt at "friendship price" last month. The two leaders agreed to maintain the spirit of friendship and extend cooperation in other food items as well.
On climate change, the two leaders highlighted the importance of a global approach based on the principles and provisions of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and its Paris Agreement.
Referring to trade, the joint statement said the two leaders welcomed the expansion of Indian investment in Egypt, which is currently about USD 3 billion, and agreed to encourage companies and corporations from their respective countries.
"Modi welcomed Egyptian investments in India under the 'Make in India' initiative, in the manufacturing and services sectors. President Al-Sisi invited Indian participation in the Suez Canal Economic Zone, particularly in sectors such as petro-chemicals, energy and agriculture," it said.
Sisi and Modi "affirmed" the need for a comprehensive and permanent solution to the Arab-Israeli conflict on the basis of the UN resolutions, in implementation of the two-state principle on the establishment of an "independent and sovereign" Palestine State with East Jerusalem as its capital.
"They also sought a comprehensive and just solution to the Palestinian refugees' cause in accordance with resolution 194 of the UN General Assembly and the Arab Peace Initiative, in a way that preserves security, stability and peace of all the countries in the region.
"Both the leaders urged the two parties to start negotiations," the statement said, adding they also emphasized the need for cessation of hostilities in Syria and expressed concern over humanitarian crisis in the country.
They called for a comprehensive and peaceful resolution of the Syrian conflict through a Syrian-led political process and expressed strong support for the people and the Government of Iraq in their efforts to overcome the existing crisis to uphold national sovereignty and territorial integrity.