Egypt's President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi said on Wednesday that Cairo welcomes the development of bilateral cooperation with Pakistan, and is keen to enhance coordination on various regional issues so as to develop bilateral cooperation and exchange expertise in various fields.
This came, according to a presidential statement, during El-Sisi's meeting with Pakistan’s Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi in the presence of his Egyptian counterpart Sameh Shoukry.
El-Sisi also said that Egypt "is keen on strengthening coordination and consultation with Pakistan" on various regional issues and issues of common interest, at the top of which is combating terrorism and extremist ideology, which is one of the most important challenges facing the two countries.
Similar to Pakistan's war against terrorism in the Kashmir region, Egypt has been fighting an Islamist insurgency led by the Islamic State’s branch in North Sinai, formerly known as Ansar Beit El-Maqdis, since 2013.
Earlier in the same day, during his press conference with Shoukry, Qureshi stressed that Egypt and Pakistan are able to establish a network to eradicate terrorism and intolerance.
El-Sisi and Qureshi reviewed the latest developments in the Middle East and the Islamic world.
They both emphasised the importance of continuing intensive coordination and pushing forward joint efforts to maintain regional and international peace and security and combat terrorism, the statement said.
They also agreed to intensify efforts to correct religious discourse and spread the true religion of Islam.
"Egypt considers Pakistan with great regard and appreciation as one of the largest Islamic countries," El-Sisi said.
Official invitation to visit Pakistan
Qureshi conveyed to El-Sisi a message from the Pakistani president that included an official invitation to visit Pakistan, the Egyptian presidency said.
The Pakistani minister said that this comes within the framework of the depth of relations between the two friendly countries and peoples, with the aspiration to explore new horizons for bilateral cooperation between Egypt and Pakistan. Qureshi also emphasised that "Egypt's stability is a pillar of stability in the Middle East and the Islamic world as a whole."
The Pakistani minister also conveyed the greetings of Pakistan's prime minister, who lauded the inspiring Egyptian experience, represented by the huge achievements Egypt has witnessed during the past years in various fields with the wise leadership and insightful vision of El-Sisi.
Such achievements start with combating terrorism and achieving security and stability, and the efforts to achieve comprehensive development through deep economic reform as well as establishing mega national projects, Qureshi said.
Pakistan looks upon the development experience of Egypt with admiration in light of the similarities of the situations in both countries and the common challenges facing them, Qureshi said.
El-Sisi asked Qureshi to convey his greetings to Pakistan's President Arif Alvi and Prime Minister Imran Khan, while hailing the historical relations between the two countries.
Egypt and Pakistan have had official diplomatic relations since 1948. Egypt was one of the first countries in the Middle East to open an embassy in Pakistan after its independence.
Boosting economic relations
Presidential spokesperson Bassam Rady said that El-Sisi's meeting with Qureshi also tackled strengthening the frameworks for bilateral cooperation between the two countries in a number of fields in a manner that is consistent with the status and potential of the two countries and that meets the aspirations of their peoples.
According to a Monday statement by the Pakistani foreign ministry, Qureshi's visit would include detailed consultations with Egyptian officials and with leading Egyptian businessmen and members of the Pakistani community. The visit is also expected to further strengthen and diversify Pakistan’s bilateral ties with Egypt, the statement said.
While in his meeting with Shoukry earlier on Wednesday, Qureshi said that various agreements would be signed between the two countries during his visit.
Rady said that among the discussed fields of cooperation are security and economic cooperation, in addition to trade and investment exchange, including exploring horizons for economic cooperation between Pakistan's Gwadar Port and Egypt's Suez Canal Economic Zone (SCEZ) to establish integrated industrial projects within the framework of the Belt and Road Initiative.
Given the amount of traffic expected to hit the Pakistani port and Egypt's SCEZ in the coming years due to being two of the major spots on China’s Belt and Road Initiative, observers believe that the Pakistani minister's visit to Cairo will boost economic relations and enhance the partnership between both countries.
In 2018, the Egyptian-Pakistani Forum explored the economic opportunities from the exact approach. The forum at the time was organised by Islamabad's South Asian Strategic Stability Institute in Egypt to mark the 70th anniversary of the beginning of relations between the two countries.