Egypt and India were the two fountainheads of the Non Aligned Movement (NAM). That was the era of Nasser, Nehru and Tito. Today the NAM may have lost some of its sheen and relevance but India and Egypt continue to be friends. The Egyptian Foreign Minister had visited India in December 2006 during which five agreements were inked, including a Partnership Agreement, a MoU on bilateral air services, a work plan on agricultural cooperation, an executive programme on cultural exchanges and an executive programme on cooperation in the field of science and technology. In fiscal 2007, India was Egypt’s fourth largest trading partner behind the United States, Italy and Saudi Arabia, and the largest importer of Egyptian goods in 2006 and 2007. This was topped by Egypt President Hosni Mubarak’s visit this month after 25 years. Renu Malhotra spoke with the Egypt Ambassador to New Delhi, H.E. Dr Mohamed Abd El Hamid Higazy, on the visit and other issues.
Once again our new found friends have offered us cheese and now want to supply us chalk. The Indian Navy had decided to by eight long-range anti-submarine, anti-surface, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance aircraft and had settled on the Poseidon aircraft manufactured by Boeing. But the critical technology offered with the aircraft cannot be transferred to India because of the American technology denial regime. This was revealed to the Navy by the US only after the tendering process and long evaluation exercise. Now the Indian Navy is being persuaded by the Americans to accept a downgraded version of the aircraft. The navy is in a fix. The US is not ready to sell the aircraft with all the features needed under the tender requirements and offered during the technical trials. The Navy is not in a position to accept a downgraded version as that would violate the Indian government’s Defence Procurement Policy of 2006.