Transcript of Special Briefing by Foreign Secretary on Prime Minister’s visit to USA and Egypt (June 25, 2023)

June 25, 2023

Shri Arindam Bagchi, Official Spokesperson: A very good afternoon to all of you. Thank you for waiting and joining us this afternoon on the special ongoing State Visit of a Prime Minister of India, Shri Narendra Modi to the Arab Republic of Egypt. Prime Minister is actually just about to depart Cairo. And before he does that, we thought we would share with you a sense of the visit, which is very useful. To give us some information about that, we have the privilege of having Shri Vinay Kwatra, Foreign Secretary of India, also joining us on the dais, Dr. Ausaf Sayeed, Secretary (CPV and OIA), Ambassador to Egypt, Shri Ajit Gupte as well as Dr. Pradeep Rajpurohit, Joint Secretary, Minister of External Affairs looking after West Asia and North Africa division. With that Sir, may I request you to take the floor.

Shri Vinay Kwatra, Foreign Secretary: Thank you very much Arindam, Secretary Dr. Ausaf Sayeed, Ambassador Ajit Gupte, Dr. Rajpurohit and friends from the media. Thank you very much for coming for the special briefing on the visit of the Honorable Prime Minister of India to Egypt. Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi, as Arindam just said, is on our State Visit to Egypt at the invitation of President His Excellency Mr. Abdel Fattah El-Sisi. This is Prime Minister's first visit to Egypt. He arrived yesterday afternoon, and was warmly received by Prime Minister of Egypt at the airport and was also accorded a ceremonial welcome yesterday, including the Guard of Honor at the airport. Yesterday, Prime Minister had four major interactions. The first of them refer to the roundtable that the Honorable Prime Minister had with the Prime Minister of Egypt and his Ministerial colleague.

This was extensive set of discussions on falling upon different areas of bilateral engagement and cooperation between India and Egypt, principally economic areas. This included the fields of renewable energy, number one. Information, communication technology, two. Three, areas relating to health and agriculture. Four, areas relating to infrastructure partnership wherever required and other areas of bilateral partnership, in terms of what is the current status of that cooperation and also going forward what is it that the two countries proposed to do. That constituted a major discussion between the two sides yesterday afternoon; which was thereafter followed by an interaction with the Indian community in Egypt that included businessman, professional, and students and other people from different walks of life. The Indian community in Egypt may be small, but they are very vibrant, dynamic and an important part of Egyptian society here. After that, the Honorable Prime Minister had a meeting with His Eminence, the Grand Mufti of Egypt, yesterday, Dr. Shawky Allam. There the discussion focused on how exactly two countries can partner together in countering extremist ideology, on taking steps to prevent radicalization within the society, including radicalization of the youth population. You would all recall that His Eminence, the Grand Mufti, had a very successful recent visit to India, just in May last month actually. And there he had a firsthand experience of an interaction with the strong and diverse, social and cultural fabric of India. During this meeting, the Honorable Prime Minister also announced that India will set up a Center of Excellence in the field of information technology at Dar Al-Ifta in Cairo, which is headed by His Eminence the Grand Mufti. Thereafter, the fourth set of interactions which the Honorable Prime Minister had yesterday, was a meeting with the cross section of prominent personality from Egypt. The whole objective of that interaction was how different constituents of the two societies, the prominent people who wrote, who are important in shaping narratives in the society can actually come together and build a more vibrant people-to-people exchanges between India and Egypt.

This morning, the Honorable Prime Minister visited the Al-Hakim Mosque in Cairo, and thereafter visited the Heliopolis Commonwealth War Graves cemetery, paid homage to the valiant Indian soldiers who made their supreme sacrifice during World War One, while protecting Egypt. Thereafter, the Honorable Prime Minister had a program at the presidency at the Al-Ittihadiya Palace where he was very warmly welcomed and received by His Excellency, President Sisi. The two leaders had a private one-to-one conversation in which, following up on the visit of His Excellency, President of Egypt to India, just a few months ago, the two Leaders discussed the full range of bilateral cooperation as also took stock of what's happening on important issues in the region and in the world. It was very clear from those discussions and the MoU and the agreements that were signed later on, that the two Leaders gave particular focus on enhancing the political and security cooperation, defense collaboration, trade and investment ties, scientific and academy collaboration and strengthening of people-to-people ties. So if you put together the yesterday's discussions between the two Prime Ministers and the respective Cabinet colleagues, and you look at what the leadership level focus between President Sisi and Prime Minister Modi was entailed, you will find that sum total of focus areas of partnership would be which I have just listed. Thereafter, in a very nice ceremony President Sisi conferred on Prime Minister Modi the Order of the Nile Honor, which is the highest civilian award in Egypt. Prime Minister clearly remarked that the recognition symbolizes two main things which is the deep rooted friendship between the two countries and the people of the two societies.

The four agreements that were signed during the visit of Honorable Prime Minister. The first the most important and the landmark development in the history of our relationship was the signature on the ‘Strategic Partnership’ between India and Egypt. This was signed by the Honorable Prime Minister and Honorable President Sisi of Egypt. In addition, the two Leaders also witnessed the exchange and on the sidelines of three other MoUs one of them focused on agriculture and allied sectors. Second one on protection and preservation of Monuments and Archaeological sites and Competition laws. Thereafter, there was a lunch hosted in honor of Prime Minister.

I should mention that building on some of the key elements of our partnership, which is relating to the archaeological and the cultural site, Honorable Prime Minister of India and the Honorable Prime Minister of Egypt, then traveled to connect in some ways with these archaeological sites, but also look at the rich historical and the cultural aspects of Egypt and two Prime Ministers visited pyramids just on the outskirts of Cairo city. Again, very, very crucial area of our partnership, which is on the restoration and preservation of old cultural site.

Prime Minister also extended invitation to the Honorable President for the G20 Summit, which is upcoming in September 2023. Honorable Prime Minister, as Arindam mentioned in the beginning, will be departing shortly in about another 10-15 minutes from Cairo for Delhi. We don't have too much time. I'll stop here. If there are a couple of questions I can try and answer them. Thank you.

Shri Arindam Bagchi, Official Spokesperson: Thank you very much. I would have been happy to take some questions but given the paucity of time, we will take only one question at maximum. Please introduce yourself and the organization that you present. Yes ma'am, can we start with you.

Unidentified Speaker: My name is Suzi [Inaudible] I am Deputy Editor at [Inaudible] and my question concerning the new and renewable energy. There is performing and very interesting cooperation in this field. The newly reformed this….and are pursuing [Inaudible] the economic zone of the Suez Canal is more things to say on this, [Inaudible].

Vishal: Sir this is Vishal from DD News. Sir, the Order of Nile [Inaudible] conferred on Prime Minister speaks volumes about growing friendship between India and Egypt. So, how do you see to it?

Unidentified Speaker: [Inaudible] My question, thank you for this opportunity first. My question about the India's stance on Egypt's desire to join the BRICS….Egypt’s request to join the BRICS.

Shri Vinay Kwatra, Foreign Secretary: Okay, fine. Thank you. Ma'am to your first question on the new and renewable energy….new and renewable energy has become a very crucial aspects of India's own priorities in terms of how exactly the sources of new and renewable energy, including solar, wind, and now hydrogen, for example, are positioned overall in the energy mix within the country. So we have set up for ourselves a target of 500 gigawatts of renewable energy...I think it's by 2030….installed capacity of 500 gigawatts. Naturally, this is an area which given the challenges of climate change the whole world faces is a very crucial area of partnership between India and Egypt. Green hydrogen, in particular stands out, partly because of the priorities of green hydrogen in Egypt, by the Egyptian leadership, and also its linkages with the Green Hydrogen Mission that India has announced. I think there are very strong possibility, investment and two, technology partnership in the field of green hydrogen, and also for the experts in this area, to continue talking to each other because this is still an evolving field. The entire world is focused on it. Naturally, as it goes along, the strong areas of partnership will always be in technology and investment. So I think this can be a very strong area of collaboration between India and Egypt.

On to the Suez Canal, I think the Chairman of the Suez Canal Authority has just returned from India...I think yesterday, if I'm not wrong. He was there in India, he had an extensive set of meetings with the business stakeholders with an objective which you mentioned, which is that the economic zone in the Suez Canal Economic Zones...what are the Indian investments that could come in a manner that benefits both the two economies and the two societies.

Yeah, as the discussions that the two Prime Ministers had yesterday, between the two delegations, the Chairman of the Suez Canal Authority was there along with other senior Ministers, Finance Minister, Foreign Minister, International Cooperation Development Minister, etc. The Order of the Nile honor, which has been so kindly bestowed by the President of Egypt on the Prime Minister of India is a symbol but also a substance of the strength of India-Egypt partnership, which as I said, today, we achieved a landmark point in our relationship where the document of the Strategic Partnership was signed between the two countries. It's only fitting therefore, that, you know, this ceremony conferring the Order of the Nile award on the Prime Minister was held today. And [Inaudible] your question on India stand on – yeah. See the BRICS...the expansion of the BRICS membership, is a very live question and there are several requests which are in the pipeline. Currently, the Member countries of the BRICS are examining all these requests on one hand, but on the other hand, they are also currently discussing between them as to what should be the criteria or expansion of the BRICS membership, what should be the process and procedure relating to that, that is yet to be arrived at. And as you will be aware, BRICS decide, takes all its decisions by consensus. So, from our side, you know, we are very active participant along with other BRICS countries in that process. Right now, that is the current status. But we are looking actively at all the applications naturally, including of very friendly and strategic partner like Egypt, into the expanded structure of the BRICS.

Shri Arindam Bagchi, Official Spokesperson: Thank you very much Sir. May I also, I am sorry. I don't have time for more questions.

Shri Vinay Kwatra, Foreign Secretary: I think we don't have time because Prime Minister is departing. So we'll have to put a stop to it right here. Thank you.

Shri Arindam Bagchi, Official Spokesperson: Thank you Sir. Thank you very much Dr. Sayeed and others.

Shri Vinay Kwatra, Foreign Secretary: Thank you. Thank you very much.


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