NEW YORK: With the world grappling with rising extremism and violence, West Asia and North Africa have never been more important as a region for India. In a one-on-one meeting with the leaders of Egypt and Jordan, India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi focused on enhancing security and economic cooperation with the two key players in the Arab world.
Mr Modi first met King Abdullah of Jordan, with whom he had discussions on the growing rise of radicalism and extremism in the region. They also discussed the rise of extremist groups like the Islamic State in the region. Mr Modi stressed that there was a need to delink terrorism from religion and said the only way to combat international terrorism is a global response. India emphasised on the need to have an anti-terrorism treaty like the proposed Comprehensive Convention on International Terrorism (CCIT) and believes it is time for the world to adopt this convention.
India has been pitching for the finalisation of an anti-terrorism treaty, the Comprehensive Convention on International Terrorism (CCIT), which was proposed by India in 1996 to ban terrorists and make it binding for countries to deny funds and a safe haven to them. Speaking about UNSC reforms, Jordan supported India’s UNSC ambitions and believes India should play a bigger role in an expanded Security Council. Mr Modi also thanked Jordan for the help provided when Indian citizens were trapped in Iraq and Syria and had to be evacuated.
Mr Modi’s meeting with Egypt’s President Abdel Fatah el-Sisi revolved around discussions on counter-terrorism and counter-radicalisation and on economic and business cooperation between India and Egypt. Egypt, which is facing the rise of extremism and violence from groups like the Islamic State, wants to enhance security cooperation with India. This was discussed in detail earlier when India’s External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj had visited Egypt in August.
Discussing economic cooperation, Mr Sisi spoke about the new Suez Canal, which can provide opportunities to India. Egypt’s new USD 44 billion canal, parallel to the 145-year-old Suez Canal, can impact India as over 90 per cent of the country’s cargo passes through the iconic waterway. The 163km long Suez Canal, which links the Mediterranean Sea with the Red Sea, acts as a maritime bridge between Europe and Asia. Increased traffic at the Suez Canal means more goods can travel at a faster speed to markets in Europe and also the trans-Atlantic Americas.
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