India to boost cooperation with Egypt, says ambassador

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CAIRO: India will continue to provide strong support to Egypt in its transitional period and assist in economic development, Indian Ambassador to Egypt R. Swaminathan said.

At a press conference on Tuesday, the spokesman for the 1.2 billion person nation renewed vows to increase cooperation with Egypt in the fields of investment, specialized training, culture, and education.

“Investment of India in Egypt will be a big boost in my view,” Swaminathan said.

India was one of the first nations to start a large project in Egypt after the January revolution, he added. Now, about 45 Indian investment projects are in the works, which will combine to create around 22,000 jobs.

One Indian-owned company, TCI Sanmar, is in the process of constructing a high capacity PVC plant in Port Said. This addition, the ambassador argued, will contribute both economic and technological advances to the country.

The plant, which already employs about 500 Egyptians, is estimated to be complete within two years.

In more than just manufacturing, Swaminathan emphasized that Egypt will be the “regional hub” of Indian presence in the Middle East and North Africa.

In reference to a collaboration with Alexandria University, Swaminathan called Egypt “the educational center of the region.” The Pan-African e-Network allows Alexandria University students to take classes online with Indian universities.

In addition, India’s training programs allow Egyptians to take advantage of more specific Indian technical expertise. Under the Indian Technical and Economic Commission (ITEC) program, nominated Egyptians go to India for training courses ranging from IT and management to military strategy. This year, 80 Egyptians are slated to join the program.

“One important way to support Egypt is through economic opportunities,” the ambassador said. “Another way is through human resources.”

In medicine, India and Egypt have used online communication to facilitate “an interaction of 30 consultations per day” between Alexandria Hospital and specialists in India, the ambassador said.

Swaminathan also highlighted the importance of cultural collaboration between the two ancient nations. In the upcoming months, Cairo will see an exhibition comparing the great Egyptian poet Ahmed Shawky with the great Indian poet Rabindranath Tagore. There will also be a photo exhibition comparing the Nile to the Ganges.

When reporters turned conversation to politics, though, Swaminathan remained neutral.

“We do not make judgments on internal affairs of other countries,” the ambassador said.

Asked about India’s position on the Mubarak trial, he called it “something for the Egyptian people to deal with together.”

Swaminathan also called his recent visit to the Muslim Brotherhood’s Freedom and Justice Party (FJP) a routine effort to “be in touch with all of the political parties.”

“I’ve met with 10-15 people [from various parties] already, and I hope to meet with 15-20 more,” the ambassador said.

Trade between the two countries totals almost $3 billion annually with an even trade balance. Indian investment in Egypt reaches approximately $2.5 billion, while Egyptian investment in India totals approximately $30 million, an embassy-sourced report said.


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