Nehru-Nasser era memories rekindled as Mubarak gets award
New Delhi, Nov 21 (IANS) It was a long wait, but it was worth its while. When India presented the 1995 Jawaharlal Nehru Award for International Understanding to Egypt's President Hosni Mubarak here Tuesday evening, it reminded many of the "magic of the Nehru-Nasser era".
Lauding Mubarak as "an outstanding world leader who symbolizes the aspirations of non-aligned and developing countries", President Pratibha Patil conferred the award on the visiting leader for his 'unflinching commitment to peace in West Asia'.
"His moderation and pragmatism, openness to reasonable and balanced compromises, and perseverance in the search for peaceful solutions have been valuable assets in efforts to reduce regional tension," Patil said at the award presentation ceremony at Hotel Maurya Sheraton.
"We have in President Mubarak a friend of India, with whom we have worked, and look forward to working, to strengthen the historical bonds of friendship and cooperation shared between our two countries, which are ancient civilizations," she said.
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, Vice-President Hamid Ansari, Home Minister Shivraj Patil and scores of diplomats were present at the award ceremony.
Mubarak is on his first visit to India in a quarter century that seeks to transform traditional ties into a "vibrant strategic partnership" between the two countries.
Recalling the famed camaraderie between India's first prime minister Jawaharlal Nehru and iconic Egyptian leader Gamal Abdel Nasser, who were prime movers in the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM), Patil said: "The magic of the Nehru-Nasser era reinforced age-old civilizational ties between India and Egypt while, at the same time, leaving an indelible imprint on world history."
Mubarak, who has ruled Egypt for three decades, too, fondly reminisced about special chemistry between Nehru and Nasser.
"The strong ties that bind our two nations go back to the era of Nehru and Nasser. Together, they led and inspired the struggle against colonialism; they fought for the freedom and sovereign equality of all nations and peoples," Mubarak said in his acceptance speech.
Mumbarak was named for the award, which was instituted in memory of Nehru and carries a cash award of Rs.2.5 million ($50,000), 12 years ago but he could not receive it earlier due to his other engagements that prevented him from coming to India.
The Egyptian leader underlined the need for strengthening partnership between the two countries to tackle a slew of global challenges ranging from "the financial and economic crisis of epic proportions", food and energy security and climate change to international terrorism, nuclear proliferation and peace in the Middle East.
"I am a strong believer that Egypt and India, the cradles of ancient civilization, possess the will, the power and, most of all, the courage to achieve these aspirations," the Egyptian leader said while announcing that Egypt will host the 15th NAM summit in Sharm El Sheikh resort next year.
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