Egypt and India strengthen ties as Modi travels to Cairo for the first time

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By Webdesk

The President of Egypt and the Prime Minister of India discuss strengthening relations in areas such as trade, food security and defence.

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi met Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi in Cairo on a rare visit, with both sides pledging to deepen their strategic partnership.

Modi and el-Sisi “signed a joint statement to elevate relations to a strategic partnership,” which they first announced in January when el-Sisi visited New Delhi, a spokesman for the Egyptian president said on Sunday.

The two leaders agreed to boost investment by India – the world’s most populous nation – in Egypt, which has the largest population in the Arab world and is now in the throes of an economic downturn.

Both sides said bilateral talks covered trade and investment, renewable energy, information technology and pharmaceuticals, among others.

The two also discussed “further cooperation in the G-20, drawing attention to the issues of food and energy insecurity, climate change and the need for the South to have a united voice,” according to a statement from Modi’s office, adding that the talks also covered defense and security ties.

Abdel Fattah el-Sisi presents the Order of the Nile Medal to Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi
Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi (right) presents the Order of the Nile Medal to Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi in Cairo, June 25, 2023 [Egyptian Presidency Handout/AFP]

El-Sisi welcomed Modi to the presidential palace in Cairo and bestowed on him the country’s highest honour, the Order of the Nile, as the two leaders reaffirmed their “mutual commitment” to strengthening relations.

This includes “increasing high-level visits,” facilitating direct flights between capitals and “developing Indian investment in Egypt,” the presidency said in Cairo.

Last January, the two leaders agreed to increase Indian investment in Egypt, which currently exceeds $3.15 billion, including through a potential “dedicated land area for Indian industries in the Suez Canal Economic Zone.”

Those projects include a $12 billion green hydrogen plant to be built by Indian company ACME.

India is already Egypt’s seventh-largest trading partner, according to data from the Central Bank of Cairo, with sales of $7 billion last year.

‘Historical visit’

Modi, who arrived in Cairo on Saturday, is the first Indian prime minister to pay a state visit to Egypt in more than 20 years. His two-day stop came six months after el-Sisi was an official guest in New Delhi during India’s Independence Day.

Modi also invited the Egyptian leader to attend a summit of the Group of 20 leading rich and developing countries, which will host India in September.

Earlier this year, both countries agreed to boost trade cooperation. India is one of the top five importers of Egyptian products, including crude oil and liquefied natural gas, salt, cotton, inorganic chemicals and oilseeds. Notable Indian exports to Egypt include cotton yarn, coffee, spices, tobacco, lentils, auto parts, ships, boats, and electrical machinery.

After his talks with el-Sisi, Modi visited a historic mosque, the Al-Hakim in Cairo, which was recently renovated with the help of the India-based Dawoodi Bohra community. He also paid tribute to Indian soldiers who died in World War I and are buried in Cairo’s Heliopolis War Cemetery.

The two governments have signed agreements on agriculture, archaeology, antiquities and competition law, said Arindam Bagchi, a spokesman for India’s foreign ministry.

“My visit to Egypt was historic. It will revitalize relations between India and Egypt and will benefit the people of our nations,” Modi wrote on Twitter before leaving for New Delhi.

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