India to strengthen ties with Egypt during President Mursi's visit
New Delhi: India has said that it will seek to strengthen its bilateral ties with Egypt during President Mohamed Mursi's three-day state visit.
President Mursi, who was given a ceremonial welcome and reception in the forecourt of Rashtrapati Bhavan on Tuesday morning, is expected to meet Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, UPA Chairperson Sonia Gandhi, other Indian leaders and interact with business groups.
President Pranab Mukherjee will be hosting a state banquet in honour of President Morsi later on Tuesday night. The Indian Government has said it is looking forward to strengthening its economic ties with Egypt.
"Our trade with Egypt has increased so rapidly in the last three years that India is now Egypt's seventh-largest trading partner," India's ambassador to Egypt Navdeep Suri told reporters ahead of the visit.
Mursi's trip comes as Egypt is struggling to restore investor confidence after suffering a sharp economic decline following the uprising that overthrew former President Hosni Mubarak in February 2011.
His administration has been plagued by unrest and deadly clashes between protesters and police, blocking efforts to build broad-based support for a much-needed programme of economic reform.
Before arriving in New Delhi, President Morsi stopped over in Pakistan, where Pakistan President Asif Ali Zardari urged him to help in efforts to end the "bloodshed" in Syria and find a solution to end the crisis.
The visit of Mursi is aimed at promoting trade and investment in Egypt's troubled economy, Indian officials said.
The two countries have traditionally had close links. "President Morsi is coming to India with a strong business delegation," said Chinmaya R Gharekhan, until recently the Indian Special Envoy for West Asia.
He is "making clear his intention to forge substantial economic links with India," Gharekhan said, writing in The Hindu newspaper. Bilateral trade between the two countries totals $5.5 billion and "we certainly hope to carry this forward during the visit of President Morsi", foreign ministry spokesman Syed Akbaruddin told reporters at a briefing.
Trade in Indian two-wheelers, petrochemicals, biotechnology, information technology, healthcare products and other goods will all be discussed, Indian officials said.
One key irritant in relations has been Egypt's refusal to support India's longstanding bid for a permanent seat on an expanded UN Security Council.