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How PM Modi’s visit to Cairo would add weight to India’s Global South initiative

Prime Minister Narendra Modi with Egyptian President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi in New Delhi in January (Image courtesy: PIB)

Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s long-awaited visit to Egypt, a regional powerhouse and one of India’s largest trading partners in Africa, is likely to take place later this month while he is on his way back from Washington.

US President Joe Biden and First Lady Jill Biden are scheduled to host PM Modi for an Official State Visit, which will include a state dinner, on June 22.

While returning from the United States, PM Modi is likely to visit Cairo as India continues to put an age-old partnership between two of the world’s oldest civilizations on a new trajectory.

Prime Minister Modi is yet to visit Egypt after coming to power in 2014.

The closest he came to visiting the most populous Arab state was in March 2020 but the trip had to be postponed due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Meanwhile, Egypt President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi has made three visits to New Delhi – in October 2015 to participate in the 3rd India Africa Forum Summit, in September 2016, and as the Chief Guest on India’s 74th Republic Day earlier this year when both nations upgraded relations to the strategic level.

Egypt has also been invited as a ‘Guest Country’ during India’s ongoing Presidency of G-20.

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Sisi’s official trips to India and PM Modi’s expected visit to Egypt in the coming weeks spotlights the warm and friendly relations between the two countries which are marked by civilizational, cultural, and economic linkages and deep-rooted people-to-people ties.

The multifaceted relationship is based on shared cultural values, commitment to foster economic growth, collaboration in the fields of defence and security and convergence on regional and global issues. The two countries also work closely on multilateral and international platforms.

“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 discussions with Sisi, hours before a military contingent from Egyptian Army marched down the Kartavya Path for the first time during this year’s Republic Day parade.

India sees Egypt as a pivot to its outreach to Africa and the Global South initiave which began with its vaccine diplomacy during the Covid-19 pandemic. It has further accelerated following New Delhi hosting the Global South Summit this January and India giving resonance to the voice of the developing countries during its ongoing G20 presidency.

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A file photo of Defence Minister Rajnath Singh with President of Egypt Abdel Fattah El Sisi in Cairo, last year (Image courtesy: Spokesman of the Egyptian Presidency)

The bilateral component of the India-Egypt relationship is also substantial.

During talks in January, which included a closed session, 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.

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

The official spokesperson for the Egyptian Presidency stated that PM Modi expressed great appreciation for President Sisi and his wise leadership that maintained security and stability in Egypt after the chaotic events in the region, including the violence during what was known as the Arab Spring.

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The Suez Canal Economic Zone aims to be one of the main logistics hubs in the region (Image courtesy: SC Zone)

As reported by IndiaNarrative.com, 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.

Sisi has repeatedly stated that his country takes pride in the close historical ties it has with India and aspires to activate the partnership “commensurate with their capabilities in all fields”.

Also Read: India and Egypt ink strategic partnership — defence, counter-terrorism key areas in focus

Indian companies have shown interest in investing in Egypt, especially in the field of green hydrogen production in the Suez Canal Economic Zone (SCZONE) in Ain Sokhna located in the Gulf of Suez, northwest of the Red Sea.

Bilateral trade between India and Egypt achieved a record high of USD 7.26 billion in Financial Year 2021-22. The trade was fairly balanced, with USD 3.74 billion Indian exports to Egypt and USD 3.52 billion imports from Egypt to India. More than 50 Indian companies have invested around USD 3.15 billion in diverse sectors of the Egyptian economy, including chemicals, energy, textile, garment, agri-business and retail.

Also Read: From military hardware to green hydrogen — India and Egypt rekindle old romance