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After the plan of expansion of IITs abroad was rolled out by the government, External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar on Saturday said that he will talk to the Union Minister for Education, Skill and Entrepreneurship Dharmendra Pradhan on collaborating with Egypt on premier higher educational institutes, like the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT).

In an interaction with the Indian community in Cairo, he said, "There was a particular interest in Egypt about getting one of our IITs (Indian Institute of Technology) to set up a collaborative enterprise here. I will discuss this with our Education Minister in India."

Premier higher educational institutions in the country are looking to expand their campuses abroad. A 16-member government-constituted committee headed by the chairman of the standing committee of the IIT council, K Radhakrishnan has recommended and pitched for the Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs) to take the lead on this front.

The committee was constituted by the Union education ministry after IIT-Delhi submitted a proposal last year for opening centers in Saudi Arabia and Egypt.

Jaishankar further stated that the relationship between India and Egypt is good. "The possibilities are greater, there is enthusiasm in India to explore it. Tomorrow I will meet the Egyptian President, Abdel Fattah El-Sisi and reiterate the strong personal commitment of Prime Minister Narendra Modi to growing this relationship," he said.

Talking about trade relations, he said, "One of the interesting development in our trade relations is that Egypt has started importing wheat from India. The good thing about Egypt is that the trade has been reasonably balanced from both sides."

Speaking about the Covid pandemic, Jaishankar shared the success story of India - lessons learnt from covid, bringing back Indians during the time of the pandemic and how India became the pharmacy of the world.

"We are carrying on extrapolating our lessons during covid... health system moving to cover 100s of millions of people, programs for home ownership- almost 25 million houses given in the past few years. It's a society where remarkable changes are happening on the ground," said EAM in Egypt.

"We made an unprecedented effort to bring back Indians home during covid. This is an India today, capable of doing big things. It has proven that it can rise to challenges," added Jaishankar.

Talking about India's reputation as the pharmacy of the world, he said that people would be surprised at the number of foreigners visiting India for medical purposes.

"Our reputation as the pharmacy of the world has grown. We are a health hub for many countries. People would be surprised at the number of foreigners visiting India for medical purposes, not just in our immediate neighbourhood but Gulf, east-Africa, and central Asia... I now see the prospect of Indian hospitals going out of India," said EAM in Egypt.

He said that his objective differs from 15 years ago when he visited the nation as a tourist.

"I am here on my first visit as the Minister of External Affairs, it's not my first visit to Egypt though, I was first here roughly about 15 years ago as a tourist. Today, my objective is different - it is really to further our relationship and meet my counterparts, the Egyptian government's leaders."

Sharing his assessment of the relationship between the two countries, he told the Indian community that as a stakeholder, I think its progress and improvement is something they are naturally interested in.

"In terms of where our relationship is I would like you all to appreciate that there is today a very very serious effort at upgrading our ties and this is the 75th anniversary of our diplomatic relations and my presence here, preceded a few weeks ago by our Defence Minister Rajnath Singh - I think is a very strong political signal to Egypt that India definitely would like to raise the quality of the relationship," said the EAM.

"As political partners, we have a long history with this country, going back to the 1950s, we have been among the more independent members of the international community, by and large, we have kept the independent course and today at a time when the world is quite polarized when we see in many ways, there are compulsions, it is important for us to reiterate the bonds of friendship between us and to work together on big international issues," added Jaishankar.

He reiterated the importance of countries with independent thinking to express their views as the world is becoming very polarized.

"Necessary for independent-minded countries to speak their mind as the world is getting very polarized... Richer countries not fully grasping how poorer countries are being hurt by what's happening in the world. It's a very stressful, unhappy world today. Countries struggling," said Jaishankar.

With inputs from ANI

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