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Sushma Swaraj in Egypt, seeks early release of six Indian seamen

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Cairo/New Delhi, Aug 25: Indian External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj, who is visiting Egypt, has urged her counterpart Sameh Hassan Shoukry to intervene for the early release of six Indian seamen detained in the country since February 2014.

Sushma, who held talks with Egyptian President Abdel Fattah Al Sisi on Monday, thanked Foreign Minister Shoukry for facilitating the process for transfer of two Indian prisoners who are serving life terms in Egyptian jails, said an official statement.

Sushma, who is visiting Egypt at the invitation of Shoukry, also held talks with Nabil El-Araby, Secretary General of League of Arab States on Monday. She met with the representatives of the Indian Community in Egypt on Sunday.
President Sisi extended a warm welcome and highlighted the importance that he attaches to Egypt-India relations and his desire to take the relations to a higher level.

Sushma Swaraj conveyed Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s greetings and congratulated him on the completion of the New Suez Canal. She outlined the preparations for deepening and expanding bilateral cooperation in all areas. She also extended her condolences on the passing away of his mother.

President Sisi mentioned that he was very impressed by the recent economic developments and scientific and technological achievements in India, which he sees as a model for all developing countries. He also hoped for closer cooperation in fighting terrorism and promoting security cooperation and defence R&D and joint production, said the statement.

Sushma held extensive bilateral talks with Shoukry, who also hosted lunch in her honour. They noted that our shared values and experiences form a strong foundation to further expand cooperation on bilateral, regional and multilateral issues. They discussed ways to develop an agenda to deepen and expand cooperation to take our relations to a higher level.

Shoukry accepted Sushma’s invitation to visit New Delhi to co-chair the seventh meeting of India-Egypt Joint Commission in January 2016 and also hold Foreign Office Consultations at secretary level in November 2015. Sushma renewed the invitation to him to participate in the India-Africa Forum Summit-III in October 2015 in India.

Both sides inked two agreements, including an MoU on Cooperation in the field of Tourism and an MoU between the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) of India and the National Research Center (NRC) of Egypt for Scientific and Technical Cooperation. It was also agreed that the Agreement on Maritime Transport, the text of which had been finalised would be signed soon.

Sushma requested her counterpart’s intervention for the early release of six Indian seamen, detained in Egypt since February 2014 and thanked Shoukry for facilitating the process for transfer of two Indian prisoners who are serving life terms in Egyptian jails.

Sushma and Secretary General of League of Arab States El-Araby reviewed India-Arab relations as well as regional issues.

Both sides noted that India’s traditionally close links with the Arab world have been strengthened further in recent years. They welcomed the success of special events such as the India-Arab Cultural Festival, India-Arab Media Symposium and India-Arab Partnership Conference.

They agreed that the First Senior Officials Meeting of the India-Arab Cooperation Forum held in New Delhi and the first India-Arab Ministerial Conference to be held in Manama later this year would give further momentum to our expanding relations, said the statement.

Sushma Swaraj is to deliver a lecture on ‘India’s relations with Egypt and the region’ at the Egyptian Council for Foreign Affairs on Tuesday, which will be attended by strategic thinkers, academics, diplomats, intelligentsia and media. She will also interact with a number of Egyptian Ministers, and policy makers.

IANS