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Egypt's Mubarak arrives on India visit, eyeing 'new horizons'

National, Sun, 16 Nov 2008 IANS

New Delhi, Nov 16 (IANS) Egypt's President Hosni Mubarak Sunday arrived in India on a four-day visit, his first to the country in 25 years, that is expected to open "new horizons" of cooperation between the two co-founders of the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM).


Accompanied by his wife Suzanne, Mubarak arrived with a heavyweight entourage that includes five senior ministers and top business leaders on this important visit that seeks to energise political and economic ties between the two countries.



The delegation includes Foreign Minister Ahmed Aboul Gheit, Information Minister Anass Ahmed Nabih El-Fiqqi, Communication Minister Tarik Mohamed Kamel Mahmoud, Information Technology Minister Rasheed Mohamed Rasheed and Trade and Industry Minister Gen. Omar Suleiman.



With bilateral trade exceeding $3 billion, increasing trade and investment between the two countries is on top of Mubarak's India agenda.



The Egyptian leader is expected to make a vigorous pitch for scaling up economic ties at a meeting with top business leaders of India Monday afternoon. The two countries are now eyeing an ambitious trade target of $10 billion by 2010.



Mubarak, Egypt's ruler for nearly three decades, will hold delegation-level talks with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh Tuesday on a wide range of bilateral, regional and global issues.



President Pratibha Patil will host a state banquet for the visiting Egyptian leader Tuesday night. He will also meet ruling United Progressive Alliance (UPA) chairperson Sonia Gandhi and External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee.



Increasing trade and investment between India and Egypt, terrorism, UN reforms and the Middle East peace process in which Egypt is an influential player and stakeholder will be among the issues that will figure prominently in discussions.



Several economic and cultural agreements are expected to be signed during the visit.



Ahead of Mubarak's visit, Manmohan Singh set a positive tone in an interview published in Egypt's semi-official daily Al-Ahram.



"Mubarak's visit will open new horizons for cooperation and give a strong momentum to bilateral ties. Cooperation between the two developing countries can help establish new world order based on equality and justice," Manmohan Singh said.



In a gesture signalling warmth in bilateral ties, President Patil will formally present the Jawaharlal Nehru Award for International Understanding, which was announced in 1995, to Mubarak at an elegant ceremony in the capital Tuesday.


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