As Egypt’s President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi meets Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Wednesday in their first meeting since 2017, India and Egypt are working overtime to deepen cooperation in areas as diverse as agriculture, cybersecurity, defence, trade, tourism, and education.
Sisi arrived in New Delhi on Tuesday and was received by Minister of State (External Affairs) Rajkumar Ranjan Singh. Prime Minister Narendra Modi tweeted, ‘Warm welcome to India, President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi. Your historic visit to India as Chief Guest for our Republic Day celebrations is a matter of immense happiness for all Indians. Look forward to our discussions tomorrow.’
Sisi will be the first Egyptian President to be chief guest at the Republic Day celebrations on January 26, a day after his meetings with India’s top political leadership — from Prime Minister Modi to President Droupadi Murmu.
At least six agreements are being finalised by diplomats from both sides.
Sisi had earlier visited India in October 2015 to participate in the third India-Africa Forum Summit, and in September 2016 on a state visit.
A military contingent from Egypt will participate in the Republic Day parade on Thursday.
An invitation to the Egyptian President this year is considered significant, especially when India’s ties with Muslim-majority countries were tested following controversial remarks made by then BJP spokesperson Nupur Sharma in June last year. That Egypt was one of the few countries from the Arab world which did not react officially to the controversial remarks was not lost in New Delhi.
A spokesperson for Egypt’s President on Tuesday said the invitation ‘reflects the convergence’ between the two countries. ‘It also reflects India’s profound appreciation for Egypt’s leadership, government, and people, and its keenness to strengthen joint cooperation between the two friendly countries as two of the most important emerging countries which have vital roles regarding various regional and international issues,’ the spokesperson said in a statement. Accompanied by a high-level delegation, including five ministers and senior officials, Sisi’s visit is expected to boost economic ties as well.
Bilateral trade between India and Egypt achieved a record high of $7.26 billion in FY 2021-22. The trade was fairly balanced, with $3.74 billion Indian exports to Egypt and $3.52 billion worth of imports by India. More than 50 Indian companies have invested around $3.15 billion in diverse sectors of the Egyptian economy, including chemicals, energy, textile, garment, agri-business, retail.
Officials said Sisi will be accorded a ceremonial welcome at Rashtrapati Bhavan on Wednesday and President Murmu will host a state banquet in the evening.
‘Sisi will have a bilateral meeting and delegation-level talks with the Prime Minister on bilateral, regional and global issues of mutual interest. External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar will call on President Sisi,’ the Ministry of External Affairs said. ‘The visiting dignitary will also interact with the Indian business community at a business event the same day.’
The MEA also stated, ‘India and Egypt enjoy warm and friendly relations marked by civilisational, 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 & security and convergence on regional and global issues. The two countries work closely at multilateral and international platforms.’