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Joint Press Release: 3rd Meeting of the India-Egypt Joint Working Group on Counter-Terrorism, 17 February 2023

The 3rd Meeting of the India-Egypt Joint Working Group on Counter-Terrorism was held on 16 February 2023 in New Delhi. The respective delegations were led by Mr. Mahaveer Singhvi, Joint Secretary for Counter-Terrorism, Ministry of External Affairs of India and Mr. Mohamed Fouad Ahmed, Director, Counter-Terrorism Unit, Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Egypt and consisted of senior representatives from both sides.

India and Egypt strongly condemned terrorism in all its forms and manifestations including cross-border terrorism. The two sides reviewed threats posed by terrorist groups globally and in their respective countries and regions. They shared their respective counter-terrorism priorities and actions undertaken to counter terrorism, violent extremism conducive to terrorism, radicalization and terror financing.

The two sides underscored the need for taking concerted actions against all the UNSC designated terrorist entities. They called upon all countries to take immediate, sustained, irreversible and verifiable actions to ensure that no territory under their control is used as a terrorist safe haven and to bring to justice perpetrators of terrorist attacks. They further called upon all countries to work towards rooting out terrorist networks, infrastructure, their financing channels and preventing cross-border movement of terrorists.

In the backdrop of the Delhi Declaration adopted in October 2022 during the special meeting of UNSC Counter-Terrorism Committee in New Delhi and the 3rd No Money for Terror Ministerial Conference on Counter-Terrorism Financing in November 2022 in New Delhi, both sides discussed way forward to address new and emerging challenges posed by virtual currencies, unmanned aerial systems and misuse of cyber space by terrorists for terrorist propaganda. The two sides reaffirmed the need for an early finalisation and adoption of the UN Comprehensive Convention on International Terrorism (CCIT) which is aimed at advancing and strengthening global counter terrorism legal framework.

The two sides agreed to further strengthen bilateral counter-terrorism collaboration, including through training and capacity building efforts, exchanges of good practices and information sharing. The Joint Working Group also discussed multilateral counter-terrorism cooperation including in the United Nations and the Global Counterterrorism Forum (GCTF). In this context, both sides exchanged views on how to enhance the effectiveness of the GCTF, ahead of the next Forum’s Coordinating Committee Meeting that will take place in Cairo on May 4, 2023 during which Egypt will officially assume the Co-Chairmanship of the Forum.

The next meeting of the Joint Working Group shall be held in Egypt on a mutually convenient date. Source: Ministry of External Affairs, India.


Second Round of Foreign Office Consultations between India and Iraq, 20 February 2023

The 2nd round of the India-Iraq Foreign Office Consultations was held on 20 February 2023 in Baghdad. The Indian delegation was led by Dr. Ausaf Sayeed, Secretary (CPV & OIA) while the Iraq’s delegation was led by Dr. Hisham Al Alawi, Undersecretary for Political Planning Affairs from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Iraq.

2.​ Secretary (CPV & OIA) called on Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Oil H.E. Mr. Hayyan Abdul Ghani, Minister of Trade H.E. Mr. Atheer Dawood Salman, National Security Adviser H.E. Mr. Qasem Al Araji, and President of Sunni Awqaf Board H.E. Dr. Mesh'an Al Khazraji, and discussed a range of bilateral, regional and international issues of mutual interest.

3.​ Both sides noted the warm and friendly traditional relations, and comprehensively reviewed the current status of bilateral relations in all fields including political, economic, defence, security, trade and investments, development partnership, scholarship programme and capacity building, cultural relations and people-to-people contacts. Detailed discussions were held on further strengthening of the bilateral relations and the future direction of the growth of bilateral cooperation.

4.​ Both sides expressed their satisfaction about the bilateral trade, which exceeded USD 34 billion for 2021-22 and discussed ways and means to further increase and diversify trade from oil to non-oil sectors. Both sides noted the importance of expanding economic partnership and technology engagement. They noted opportunities for investment, particularly in the fields of oil and gas, infrastructure, healthcare, power, transport, agriculture, water management, drugs and pharmaceuticals, ICT, and renewable energy. They urged business community to engage closely for mutual benefit.

5.​ A sizeable number of candidates from Iraq have been benefiting from our capacity-building programme, including ITEC and higher education scholarships. Both sides are keen to enhance the level of economic engagement and people-to-people exchanges. Secretary (CPV & OIA) also announced that an artificial limb fitment camp (Jaipur Foot) will be organised in Iraq soon.

6.​ Secretary (CPV & OIA) interacted with the Indian Community, Indian and Iraqi business leaders and ITEC and ICCR alumni from Iraq.

7.​ Secretary (CPV & OIA) inaugurated the newly-constructed Indian Consular Application Centre (ICAC) in Baghdad which will facilitate Indian and Iraqi nationals, seeking visas and consular services.

8.​ Both sides agreed on the importance of continuing the upward momentum in the relationship through exchanges of regular visits and consultations, and agreed to hold the next India-Iraq Joint Commission Meeting at Oil Ministers’ level in New Delhi at a mutually convenient date. Source: Ministry of External Affairs, India.


12th round of the India-Oman Strategic Consultative Group Meeting, 28 February 2023

The 12th round of India-Oman Strategic Consultative Group (IOSCG) meeting took place in Muscat, Oman on 27 February 2023. The 12th round of the IOSCG was co-chaired by Secretary (CPV & OIA) Dr. Ausaf Sayeed and Under Secretary for Diplomatic Affairs of Oman H.E Sheikh Khalifa Alharthy. The meeting reviewed bilateral ties between India and Oman in different domains and identified new areas of cooperation.

The India-Oman Strategic Consultative Group meeting is an important forum for both countries enabling regular review of bilateral relations. The discussions were focused on exploring avenues of cooperation in key sectors including energy, trade and investment, health, education, defence, and cultural exchanges.

On the sidelines of the meeting, Dr. Sayeed interacted with the Indian community in Oman and appreciated their contributions to the development of both Oman and India. He assured them of the Indian government's commitment to their welfare and well-being.

The visit by Dr. Sayeed reflects the strong bilateral relationship between India and Oman, the importance of the Sultanate of Oman as a key partner for India in the Gulf and highlights India's commitment to strengthening its strategic partnership with Oman. The two sides expressed confidence that the outcomes of the 12th round of consultations will contribute to further enhancing the bilateral relationship and promoting greater cooperation in various fields. Source: Ministry of External Affairs, India.


Shri Nitin Gadkari meets Minister of Transport of Qatar Mr. Jassim bin Saif Al Sulaiti, 7 February 2023

Union Minister (RT&H) Shri Nitin Gadkari met the Qatari Delegation led by Mr. Jassim bin Saif Al Sulaiti, Minister of Transport of Qatar  in New Delhi today.

In the meeting views and opinions were exchanged in the sectors pertaining to Sustainable Transport Infrastructure Development and deliberated upon capacity building and technology sharing in sustainable alternate clean and green fuels, electric mobility and development of innovative transit technologies for movement of passenger and cargo.

The meeting paved the way for strengthening India’s continued partnership and collaboration with Qatar for deriving effective solutions to contemporary challenges in Transportation and Logistics. Source: Press Information Bureau.

Qatar lifts ban on frozen seafood from India, 17 February 2023

Qatar lifted its temporary ban on the import of frozen seafood from India, paving the way for enhanced export and improved bilateral relations with the West Asian country.

The ban was imposed in November last year, just ahead of the FIFA World Cup following alleged detection of Vibrio cholera from a few consignments from India. The Qatari authorities had informed India that the ban was temporary and owing to lack of sufficient testing laboratories in their country in the run-up to the football event.

The Department of Commerce under the Government of India along with embassy of India in Qatar had since been making constant efforts to resolve the issue. A rally of discussions with Qatar’s Ministry of Public Health had been taken, leading to the February 16 notification lifting the ban on frozen seafood. However, restrictions continue on the export of chilled seafood.

“This week is proving to be very good for the seafood exporters in India, considering a similar lift in the suspension by China. We hope that the restrictions by Qatar on the chilled seafood will also be cleared soon after a reassessment of the situation,” said MPEDA Chairman Shri D.V. Swami, who is in the city in connection with the February 15-17 India International Seafood Show.

Earlier this week, on February 14, Beijing lifted suspension of 99 Indian seafood-processing exporters after acknowledging India’s assurance over source control. MPEDA along with other agencies had played a crucial role in getting lifted Beijing’s suspension of a total of 110 units since December 2020. Source: Press Information Bureau.


Allocation Of Haj Quota, 2 February 2023

The Ministry has had a number of interactive sessions on Haj management with the stakeholders including Haj Committees of the States and Union Territories(UTs) wherein requests for restoration of Haj Quota were received. The issue was addressed under the Annual Bilateral Agreement with Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA) for Haj 2023 and in spite of challenges of CoVID-19, the original Haj quota of the country i.e. 1,75,025 has been restored for Haj 2023. The quota earmarked for Haj Committee of India (HCoI) under the Annual Bilateral Agreement is meant for pilgrims from various States and Union Territories for Haj 2023. The increase in Haj quota has now enabled the Government to send more pilgrims from States/UTs for Haj.

This information was given by the Union Minister of Minority Affairs, Smt. Smriti Zubin Irani, in a written reply in Lok Sabha today. Source: Press Information Bureau.

Hajj Policy, 9 February 2023

To ensure a smooth, safe and comfortable Haj pilgrimage for Indian pilgrims, the Government of India makes extensive arrangements for the security, travel, stay and wellbeing of Indian Haj pilgrims, both within India and in Saudi Arabia, in close coordination with various stakeholders including Ministry of Civil Aviation, Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, Haj Committees of State and Union Territories, Haj Committee of India, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Consulate General of India in Jeddah. This year, the preparation for Haj 2023 was initiated by Ministry well in advance, by convening various interactive sessions on Haj management with the aforesaid stakeholders. It has been ensured that all required facilities including a fair online process for selection of pilgrims are available within the timeline. The detailed guidelines for Haj 2023 for stakeholders have also been finalized and issued on 06.02.2023 and can be accessed at The application form for Haj 2023 through Haj Committee of India has been made free of cost, discretionary quota for VIPs/dignitaries has been abolished and special arrangements shall be made for lady pilgrims, infants, divyangjan and elderly.  

This information was given by the Union Minister of Minority Affairs, Smt. Smriti Zubin Irani, in a written reply in Lok Sabha today. Source: Press Information Bureau.


India-France-UAE Trilateral Focal Points’ Meeting, 6 February 2023

Foreign Secretary, Shri Vinay Mohan Kwatra is on an official visit to France from 05-07 February 2023 where he participated in the Focal Points’ Meeting of the India-France-UAE Trilateral Dialogue, launched in September 2022 by the Foreign Ministers of the three countries.

2.​ As a follow up to the Joint Statement issued and the roadmap adopted by the Foreign Ministers of India-France-UAE during their telephone call on 04 February 2023, the three focal points discussed the practical steps to take the cooperation forward including in the fields of defence, energy and environment, innovation and people-to-people exchanges, by synergising the strong bilateral partnerships between India, France and the UAE. They agreed to remain in touch and regularly review progress on the trilateral roadmap. Source: Ministry of External Affairs, India.

Indian Air Force to Participate in Exercise Desert Flag VIII, 25 February 2023

An Indian Air Force contingent comprising of 110 Air Warriors has arrived at Al Dhafra airbase of United Arab Emirates for participating in Exercise Desert Flag VIII. The IAF would be participating with five LCA Tejas and two C-17 Globemaster III aircraft. This is the first occasion when the LCA Tejas shall participate in an international flying exercise outside India.

Exercise Desert Flag is a multilateral air exercise in which Air Forces from UAE, France, Kuwait, Australia, UK, Bahrain, Morocco, Spain, Republic of Korea, and USA would also be participating. The exercise is scheduled from 27 Feb 23 to 17 Mar 23.

The aim of the exercise is to participate in diverse fighter engagements and learn from the best practices of various Air Forces. Source: Press Information Bureau.


APEDA inks Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Lulu Hypermarket for export promotion of millets in GCC countries, 24 February 2023

In a move to harness export potential of millets to the Gulf Cooperation Countries (GCCs), the Agricultural and Processed Food Products Export Development Authority (APEDA) that works under the Ministry of Commerce, Government of India, has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Lulu Hypermarket LLC on February 21, 2023.

APEDA aims to promote millet products and value-added products around the world in association with Lulu Group, which is an international retail hypermarket chain that operates stores and shopping malls across Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates, Egypt, India and Far East.

As per the agreement, the Lulu Group will facilitate promotional activities for millet products and enable the country to display millets and its value added products, ready to eat products in international retail chains by sourcing it from Farmer Producer Organizations, Farmer Producer Companies, women entrepreneurs and startups.

APEDA will facilitate manufactures to send various samples of millet products to Lulu Hypermarkets, which will be showcased at its various stores. APEDA, in association with Lulu Group, will also provide assistance in labelling of the products in accordance with the requirement of different importing countries.

As a part of its series of events for the promotion of International Year of Millets (IYoM) 2023, APEDA is organizing export promotion activities for millets in 16 International Trade Fairs, including Gulfood 2023.

India has exported millets worth USD 46.05 million during April-November 2022-23 and the UAE being the major importing country of Indian millets. Signing of MoU will facilitate APEDA’s strategy to promote the export of millets and its value-added products in West Asian countries to achieve the overall set target of USD 100 million for export of millets and its value-added products by 2025.

The MoU was signed between Dr Tarun Bajaj, Director APEDA and Mr. Salim VI, the Chief Operating Officer of LuLu Group in presence of APEDA Chairman Dr M Angamuthu, Consul General of India Dr Aman Puri and Mr. M.A. Yusuff Ali, the Chairman & Managing Director of Luu Group.

Speaking on the occasion, APEDA Chairman M Angamuthu said, “It’s a Mission and Vision of Hon’ble Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi to promote Millets in the international market. The APEDA team is ready to provide all required help to exporters, millet producers, women FPOs, etc to promote Indian millets across the globe.”

Stressing on coordinating with buyers, sellers, producers, to take forward the export of millets and value added products of millets, Angamuthu said, “It’s a good opportunity to boost our exports as India has very distinctive traditional varieties of millets which are loved by health-conscious people. The export of millets will help in increasing the income of farmers.”

APEDA has also planned to organize millet promotional activities in South Africa, Japan, South Korea, Indonesia, Saudi Arabia, Sydney, Germany, United Kingdom and United States of America by facilitating participation of different stakeholders from India in some of the significant food shows, Buyer Seller Meets and Road Shows.

As part of the promotion of Indian millets, APEDA has planned to showcase millets and its value added product at various global platforms such as Foodex, Seoul Food & Hotel Show, Saudi Agro Food, Fine Food Show in Sydney (Australia), Belgium’s Food & Beverages Show, Germany’s BioFach and Anuga Food Fair, San Francisco’s Winter Fancy Food Show, etc.

It is estimated that the millets market is set to grow from its current market value of more than USD 9 billion to over USD 12 billion by 2025.

The government is also mobilizing start-ups for export promotion of value-added products in the Ready to Eat (RTE) and Ready to Serve (RTS) category such as noodles, pasta, breakfast cereals mix, biscuits, cookies, snacks, sweets, etc.

As per the DGCIS data, India registered a growth of 8.02% in the export of millets in the financial year 2021-22 as the export of millets was 159,332.16 metric tonne against 147,501.08 metric tonne during the same period last year. Source: Press Information Bureau.


PM condoles loss of lives due to Earthquake in Syria, 6 February 2023

The Prime Minister, Shri Narendra Modi has expressed deep grief over the loss of lives due to the Earthquake in Syria. Shri Modi has said that we share the grief of the Syrian people and remain committed to provide assistance and support in this difficult time.

In a tweet, the Prime Minister said;

"Deeply pained to learn that the devastating earthquake has also affected Syria. My sincere condolences to the families of the victims. We share the grief of Syrian people and remain committed to provide assistance and support in this difficult time." Source: Press Information Bureau.

PM condoles loss of lives due to Earthquake in Turkey, 6 February 2023

The Prime Minister, Shri Narendra Modi has expressed deep grief over the loss of lives and damage of property due to the Earthquake in Turkey.

In response to a tweet by the President of Turkey, the Prime Minister said;

"Anguished by the loss of lives and damage of property due to the Earthquake in Turkey. Condolences to the bereaved families. May the injured recover soon. India stands in solidarity with the people of Turkey and is ready to offer all possible assistance to cope with this tragedy." Source: Press Information Bureau.

Earthquake relief assistance to Türkiye, 6 February 2023

In light of Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi’s instructions to offer all possible assistance to cope with the earthquake in Türkiye today, Dr. P. K. Mishra, Principal Secretary to the Prime Minister held a meeting in South Block to discuss immediate relief measures. It was decided that Search and Rescue Teams of NDRF and Medical Teams along with relief material would be dispatched immediately in coordination with the Government of Republic of Türkiye.

Two teams of NDRF comprising 100 personnel with specially trained dog squads and necessary equipment are ready to be flown to the earthquake hit area for search and rescue operations. Medical Teams are also being readied with trained doctors and paramedics with essential medicines. Relief material will be dispatched in coordination with the Government of Republic of Türkiye and Indian Embassy in Ankara and Consulate General office in Istanbul.

The meeting was attended by Cabinet Secretary, representatives of Ministries of Home Affairs, NDMA, NDRF, Defence, MEA, Civil Aviation and Health and Family Welfare. Source: Ministry of External Affairs, India.

Deployment of two NDRF Teams for Search and Rescue operation in the earthquake affected areas of Türkiye, 7 February 2023

As per the directions of Hon’ble Prime Minister of India, Shri Narendra Modi, today two teams consisting of 101 personnel of National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) along with specially trained dog squads and all the necessary equipments have been sent to Türkiye by special Indian Air Force flights for undertaking search and rescue operations in the affected areas of Türkiye, which have been devastated on 06.02.2023 by massive earthquakes. The contingent of NDRF is led by Commandant, Shri Gurminder Singh along with Doctors and paramedics for providing necessary assistance. The teams are self-contained in all respect and are equipped with all the necessary state-of-the art search and rescue, and personal safety equipments. The NDRF team will assist the local authorities of the Türkiye in relief and rescue operations.

The Government of India is committed towards providing all necessary assistance in this crisis situation to the Government of Türkiye to cope with the earthquake as envisioned by Hon’ble Prime Minister of India. Source: Press Information Bureau.

India Delivers Emergency Relief Assistance to Syria, 8 February 2023

In the wake of tragic earthquake that struck North-Western Syria on 6 February 2023 causing massive destruction and loss of precious lives, the Government of India, has dispatched 6 tons of emergency relief assistance through a special aircraft of Indian Airforce to Syria.

2. The consignment was handed over by Cd’A of India to Syria Shri S. K. Yadav to the Deputy Minister of Local Administration and Environment of Syria Mr. Moutaz Douaji at Damascus Airport today morning. The consignment consists of emergency medicines and equipments including portable ECG machines, patient monitors and other essential medical items.

3. India over the years has been extending humanitarian, technical and developmental assistance to Syria through bilateral and multilateral channels. Consignments of food and medicines have been supplied to Syria from time to time, including during the pandemic. Two Artificial Limb Fitment Camps (Jaipur Foot) have been organized in Syria in December 2020 and recently in October-November 2022. A Next-Gen Centre for Information Technology was set up in Damascus in October 2021. About 1500 scholarships have been provided to Syrian students to study in India in diverse streams. Source: Ministry of External Affairs, India.

Operation Dost, 8 February 2023

Following the massive earthquake that struck Türkiye and Syria on 6 February 2023, Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi had directed that all possible assistance be extended to the affected people.

In pursuance of this, Operation Dost was launched to provide necessary support in terms of search and rescue (SAR) efforts as well as medical assistance. This has involved a whole-of-government approach with coordination among various agencies. This swift response led to the first C-17 IAF aircraft with a specialized SAR team leaving for Türkiye within hours of a request of assistance being received.

Since then, India has been able to send more than 250 personnel, specialized equipment and other relief material amounting to more than 135 tons to Türkiye on 5 C-17 IAF aircrafts.

These include three self-sustained teams of the National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) numbering more than 150 specially trained personnel, along with dog squads, specialized equipment, vehicles and supplies. Their equipment allows for detection, location, access and extrication of people trapped under collapsed structures.

In addition, personnel and equipment have been sent to set up a 30-bed self-sustained field hospital of the Indian Army. This includes a team of 99 specially trained personnel, with essential medicines, advanced equipment, vehicles and ambulances. The hospital will provide for a fully functional Operation Theatre, and facilities such as X-ray, ventilators, etc.

The deployment of our teams in Türkiye is being coordinated with the local authorities through our Embassy, which has set up a Camp Office at Adana. The NDRF teams are rendering assistance in rescue operations at Gaziantep while the medical team is setting up the Field Hospital in Iskenderun. A team of officials of Ministry of External Affairs, two of which are Turkish speaking officers, have been deployed to Türkiye to assist the teams involved in rescue and relief operations.

Our Embassy is also ascertaining the well-being of Indian nationals in the affected region, particularly in Adana, Gaziantep, Malatya and Kahramanmaras provinces of Türkiye, which have been the most affected due to earthquake. Embassy has also set up a Help Desk. While serious logistical constraints such as road conditions, inclement weather and the ongoing rescue operations limit options, our officials are reaching out to some ten Indian nationals who are reportedly stranded. Efforts are also ongoing to trace a missing national.

As regards Syria, more than 6 tons of emergency relief assistance has been delivered through a C130J IAF aircraft to Damascus. The consignment includes medicines for emergency use, fluids for hydration, protective gear, general use medicines and medical equipment like ECG machine, patient monitor etc. The consignment was received by the Deputy Minister of Local Administration and Environment of Syria, H.E. Mr. Moutaz Douaji at Damascus airport.

India stands committed to extend all possible support to those affected by this devastating earthquake. Operation Dost is India’s latest expression of being a first responder, a net security provider, and a country whose Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief (HADR) response is quick and available to countries not only in the neighbouring region, but also beyond. Source: Ministry of External Affairs, India.

India stands firmly with the people of Türkiye: PM, 10 February 2023

The Prime Minister, Shri Narendra Modi has said that India will keep trying to save maximum lives under 'Operation Dost'.

Responding to a tweet by MEA regarding the role that Indian team is playing in Türkiye, the Prime Minister tweeted :

"Our teams are working day and night as a part of ‘Operation Dost.’ They will keep giving their best to ensure maximum lives and property are saved. In this critical time, India stands firmly with the people of Türkiye." Source: Press Information Bureau.

As part of the policy, the MEI@ND standardizes spellings and date format to make the text uniformly accessible and stylistically consistent. The views expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views/positions of the MEI@ND. Editor, MEI@ND P R Kumaraswamy.