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Army chief heads to Egypt in fresh military outreach to Africa, joint manufacturing also on cards

Over the next two days, the Chief of the Army Staff (COAS) General Manoj Pande will be meeting Egypt's senior military leadership where he will discuss avenues for further enhancing Indo-Egypt defence relations (File image courtesy: PIB)

In what would be the first high-level visit from India to Egypt after the two countries upgraded their relations to the strategic level in January this year, Indian Army Chief General Manoj Pande left for Cairo on Monday with an aim to further strengthen defence cooperation with the African nation which holds a commanding presence in the Red Sea — the gateway to the Mediterranean Sea via the Suez Canal.

Over the next two days, the Chief of the Army Staff (COAS) will be meeting Egypt’s senior military leadership where he will discuss avenues for further enhancing Indo-Egypt defence relations. He will also be visiting various Egyptian Armed Forces establishments and exchanging ideas on issues of mutual interest.

“The Army Chief will interact with the Commander-in-Chief of Egyptian Armed Forces, Minister of Defence and Military Production, and Chief of Staff, Egyptian Armed Forces. He will also engage in extensive discussions with the Chief of Egyptian Armed Force Operations Authority,” the Indian defence ministry said in a statement on Monday.

“The visit of the COAS will further deepen the bilateral relationships between the two Armies and act as a catalyst for closer coordination and cooperation between the two countries on a host of strategic issues,” it added further.

Ahead of General Pande’s visit, New Delhi noted that India-Egypt military relations are on the rise which was evident during India’s 74th Republic Day parade this year when a military contingent from the Egyptian Army marched down the Kartavya Path for the first time.

It was also the first time that the President of the Arab Republic was invited as a chief guest for the parade.

India Egypt

During their discussions, Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Egyptian President Abdeh Fattah El-Sisi batted not only for an enhanced defence partnership but also showed their readiness to counter the rising terror and extremist ideology in the region.

Both leaders spotlighted that, while there has been a significant increase in joint exercise training and capacity building between both armies over the last few years, there is a need to further strengthen cooperation between the defence industries and enhance the exchange of information and intelligence related to counter-terrorism.

“At one side of the Arabian Sea is India and on the other side is Egypt. Strategic cooperation between the two countries will help in promoting peace and prosperity in the entire region,” said PM Modi after the meeting.

A few days before the Egyptian president’s landmark visit, the special forces of the Indian and the Egyptian Armies engaged in two-week drills in the deserts of Rajasthan during their first-ever joint ‘Exercise Cyclone-I‘ to bolster interoperability in desert terrain while undertaking counter-terrorism, reconnaissance, raids and other special operations.

Indian Army Egypt
Commandos from the Special Forces of Indian and Egyptian Army during their first-ever joint exercise held in Rajasthan in January (Image courtesy: Twitter/@ADGPI)

As India continuously grows its capability to manufacture advanced cutting-edge technologies and systems in the defence sector under the ‘Atmanirbhar Bharat’ initiative, Egypt is one of the several countries which has maintained its interest in acquiring made-in-India Tejas fighter aircraft for its air force.

As reported by IndiaNarrative.com, it was Defence Minister Rajnath Singh’s visit to Cairo last September which paved the way for enhancing defence cooperation “across all sectors” of mutual interest between the two countries.

Singh held crucial discussions with his Egyptian counterpart Lieutenant-General Muhammad Zaki – who besides being the Commander-in-Chief of the Egyptian Armed Forces is also the Minister of Defence and Military Production – and also called on Sisi as both countries signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) in the field of military cooperation.

The Egyptian President said that his country takes pride in the close historical ties it has with India and is keen to deepen military and defence ties.

Sisi expressed Cairo’s aspiration to activate the partnership “commensurate with their capabilities in all fields” and discussed cooperation in joint manufacturing, transfer and localization of technology, with the aim of exploiting the capabilities and infrastructure available in the two countries.

Keeping up with its outreach with Africa and regional unity under the Security and Growth for all in the Region (SAGAR), India showcased 75 indigenous products from 32 industries manufactured under ‘Make in India’ during the second edition of joint military ‘Africa-India Field Training Exercise’ (AFINDEX-2023) held in Pune in March.

Army Chiefs, representatives of chiefs and participants from a total of 25 nations from the African continent, including Egypt, had a first-hand look at the indigenous new-generation equipment manufactured in India.

The Egyptian government also remains quite gung-ho to open Indian investments in green hydrogen in the Suez Canal Economic Zone (SCZONE) in Ain Sokhna located in the Gulf of Suez, north-west of the Red Sea.