Egypt's Morsi eyes stronger ties with 'friend' Pakistan

Áhram Online , Monday 18 Mar 2013

President Mohamed Morsi meets with his Pakistani counterpart Asif Ali Zardari as part of a a South Asian tour

Morsi and Egyptian delegation meet with Pakistani side on Monday (Photo: Ahram Arabic News Website)

Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi said his country will continue its support for Pakistan, labelling the conservative Islamic country a "friend" while meeting Monday with Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari in Islamabad.

Morsi underlined the "distinguished bilateral relations" between both countries, which he said reflects a desire to develop more cooperation in technology, military cooperation and economic development.

"I aim that my current visit to Pakistan would lead to a leap forward in the cooperation between both countries," he said.

Morsi also stressed the importance of working on ending bloodshed in Syria through political solutions.

The former head of the Muslim Brotherhood's Freedom and Justice Party arrived in Pakistan on Monday, on a South Asian tour that will also take in India as he works to promote trade and investment to aid Egypt's troubled economy.

Morsi's one-day visit to Pakistan was the first by an Egyptian leader since former president Gamal Abdel Nasser in the 1960s, Pakistan's foreign ministry said. He was warmly welcomed by authorities and public alike.

Before Morsi's arrival, the ministry said the visit would be a "watershed and a landmark" in relations between the two Muslim nations which would "give a new impetus to economic, trade and cultural relations."

Officials from the two countries signed agreements to promote cooperation in shipping, investment, information technology and science and technology.

Pakistani state television showed live footage of the ceremony at the presidential palace where Morsi was greeted and presented with a military guard of honour.

On Monday Morsi is due to travel to India, where he will meet with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, as well as business groups, to bolster a blossoming trade relationship worth $4.5 billion in 2012/11, compared to $3.2 billion the previous financial year.

"Our trade with Egypt has increased so rapidly in the last three years that India is now Egypt's seventh-largest trading partner," India's ambassador to Egypt Navdeep Suri told reporters ahead of the visit.

"We talk often in general terms about space, technology and cooperation but during this visit we are talking in specific terms about launching an Egyptian satellite," he said.

Egypt is struggling to restore the confidence of investors and foreign lenders, having suffered a sharp economic decline since the uprising that overthrew Hosni Mubarak in February 2011.

Morsi's administration has been plagued by unrest and deadly clashes between protesters and police, blocking efforts to build broad-based support for a programme of economic reform.

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