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'India willing to share expertise with Egypt'

New Delhi,Diplomacy, Tue, 16 Oct 2012 IANS

New Delhi Oct 16 (IANS) India welcomes the triumph of democratic forces in Egypt and would be happy to share its expertise and experience with the new government in that country, a leading Indian official said as the two countries began a Track II dialogue.

"Developments in the Arab world in the past two years have changed the contours of political and socio-cultural landscape of the region," Indian Council of World Affairs (ICWA) director general Rajiv Bhatia said in his opening remarks at the start of the dialogue with the Egyptian Council for Foreign Affairs (ECFA), a leading think tank in that country. ICWA is India's oldest foreign policy think tank.

"As the world's largest and successful democracy, India warmly welcomes the triumph of democratic forces in Egypt in particular and wishes to share its experience and expertise appropriately. But, there is also anxiety about some facets of the Arab Spring," he said.

"Egypt, being the most vital player in the region in terms of military power, strategic location and human resources, enjoys special significance for India. Its historic relationship with India, running from ancient times to the modern era, through NAM period and the post-Cold War era, now needs to be re-looked and refined, in light of the changing matrix in the region," he said.

The dialogue seeks to redefine an old relationship with Egypt following an elected government taking office in Cairo earlier this year after a people's revolution that overthew the dictatorial regime of president Hosni Mubarak.

"Our dialogue takes place at a time of momentous developments that underline the vast potential for expansion of mutual understanding and cooperation between India and Egypt, two ancient civilizations linked through a long history of contacts and strong mutuality of interests," Bhatia said, hoping that the dialogue will lead to "a new and more promising era in India-Egypt relations."

A four-member ECFA delegation headed by Ambassador Dr El-Sayed Amin Shalaby, executive director ECFA, is in India to participate in this conference. Eminent Indian diplomats and academics will participate in this conference to discuss several strategic, political and economic issues of common interest.

The dialogue could be the prelude to a visit here by new Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi, who came to power after the peaceful revolution in the north African country.

Issues of Syrian civil unrest, Egyptian peace initiative and mediation efforts by the Arab League, building up of Israel-Iran tensions, and the Palestine issue will also figure in the discussions.

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