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Photo: Mint
Photo: Mint

Cabinet approves signing of pacts with Egypt, Maldives

India will sign a maritime transport agreement with Egypt and the Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty in Criminal Matters with Maldives

New Delhi: The Union cabinet chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Wednesday approved the signing of an agreement with Egypt and a treaty with Maldives aimed to improve India’s relations with the two countries. India will sign a maritime transport agreement with Egypt and the Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty in Criminal Matters with Maldives.

The agreement with Egypt aims to strengthen co-operation between the two nations as well as render mutual assistance and advice on merchant shipping and other maritime matters. It will also include exchange and training of staff and students from various maritime establishments and establishment of joint ventures in the field of maritime transportation.

The agreement is scheduled to be signed on a mutually convenient date. Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi is, in fact, one of the top leaders from Africa expected to attend the third India Africa summit, which will be hosted by New Delhi next week.

The agreement comes after minister of road transport, highways and shipping Nitin Gadkari represented India at the opening of the New Suez Canal in Egypt in August. The $8-billion New Suez project is one of the steps Egypt has taken in recent months towards boosting its economy.

The New Suez Canal is a waterway running parallel to a part of the 19th century Suez Canal connecting the Mediterranean Sea and the Red Sea—the shortest shipping route between Europe and Asia. A special economic zone is also expected to come up alongside the new canal which is expected to boost the area’s credentials as an international industrial and logistics hub.

With Maldives, the treaty aims to enhance the effectiveness of both countries in investigation and prosecution of crime, through co-operation and mutual legal assistance in criminal matters. The treaty also aims to provide a broad legal framework for bilateral co-operation in the context of transnational crime and linkages to terrorism.

Indian foreign minister Sushma Swaraj was in the Maldives earlier this month for the fifth joint commission meeting—after a gap of 15 years—between the two countries that reviews the entire spectrum of bilateral ties. During the joint commission meeting, “both sides agreed on an early finalisation to the Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty in criminal matters", an Indian foreign ministry statement had then said.

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