Egypt's participation as chief guest at India's Republic Day heralds 'new dawn' in relations: Ambassador

Ahram Online , Monday 23 Jan 2023

India’s Ambassador to Cairo Ajit Gupte said the upcoming visit of Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi to India, where he will participate as the chief guest at India’s 74th Republic Day celebrations, will be "a momentous occasion that heralds a new dawn in the two country’s bilateral relations."

India’s Ambassador to Cairo Ajit Gupte


El-Sisi is set to attend Thursday’s celebrations on invitation of Prime Minister of India Narendra Modi. It is the first time ever that an Egyptian president will participate as the chief guest in the event.

The president will be accompanied by a large delegation, including a military contingent that will participate in the day’s parade.

He will also meet with the president and prime minister of India and other senior ministers and officials, Gupte said in a statement on Monday.

The Indian ambassador shed light on history binding the two nations, saying "as two of the world’s most ancient civilisations, India and Egypt have enjoyed close contacts for many centuries. Emperor Ashoka’s edicts in India refer to his relations with Egypt under Ptolemy-II."

In modern times, he added, Mahatma Gandhi; Indian historical figure, and Saad Zaghloul; the historic leader of Egyptian Al-Wafd party and icon of the country's 1919 Revolution against the British occupation, shared the common goal of independence for their countries.

The" close" and "exceptional" friendship between former Egyptian President Gamal Abdel-Nasser and former Indian Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru led to a friendship treaty between the two countries in 1955 and the foundation of the Non Aligned Movement, he further said.

"Emerging from the shackles of colonialism, both India and Egypt share close political understanding, based on long history of contacts and cooperation in bilateral, regional and global issues."

India represents the aspirations of developing countries in multilateral forums and has been vociferously seeking reforms in the UN and other international organisations.

“India and Egypt are marching ahead to fulfill aspirations of their respective citizens to gain their rightful place in the comity of nations," he added.

The Indian ambassador's statement also noted that the Egyptian-Indian continued political engagement at the highest level has further strengthened the bilateral relations.

"President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi’s visits to India in October 2015 and in September 2016 gave further impetus to our bilateral relations," he said.

He also recalled the two countries’ cooperation during the COVID-19 pandemic, pointing out that Egypt procured 50,000 vaccine doses in early 2021 that were made in India. Meanwhile, India procured 300,000 doses of Remdesivir made in Egypt to fight the second wave of COVID in India in May 2021. 

Gupte said bilateral trade has expanded rapidly by 75 percent in 2021-22 to reach its highest-ever level of $7.26 billion, adding that they continue to grow in 2022-23 as well.

Around 50 Indian companies operating in Egypt provide direct employment to approximately 38,000 Egyptians, investing over $3.2 billion across the chemical, energy, automobile, retail, apparel and agriculture sectors, among others.

Many of these companies are planning to expand their investments by a cumulative $800 million, Gupte revealed.

Several Indian companies have also shown interest in developing green hydrogen and green ammonia projects in Egypt, with leading Indian companies signing MoUs with the government worth $18 billion.

The Indian embassy has also activated institutional mechanisms and held the Fifth India-Egypt Joint Trade Committee and Fifth Joint Business Council meetings in July 2022 to boost trade and commerce further, Gupte added.

As a result of these efforts, over 14 business delegations with about 600 Indian companies have visited Egypt since mid-2021, he pointed out.

India and Egypt have also steadily expanded defence cooperation, with the countrys' air forces conducting their first ever joint tactical air exercise, Dessert Warrior, in late October 2021 in Egypt.

A 57-member Indian Air Force contingent with three Su-30 fighter aircraft and two C-17 transport aircraft visited Egypt to participate in a month-long tactical leadership programme in June 2022. 

This was the first such programme organised by the Egyptian Air Force, the ambassador noted.

Indian and Egyptian special forces are also planning a joint exercise this month, he said, adding that the Indian naval ships are also regularly visiting Egyptian ports on goodwill visits. 

He added that the past few months have witnessed multiple high-level visits from India to Egypt, beginning with Minister of Defence Rajnath Singh in September 2022, Minister of External Affairs S Jaishankar in October 2022 and Minister of Environment Bhupender Yadav in November 2022.

Substantive discussions at different levels were held during these visits. An important MoU on defence cooperation was also signed during the visit of the Indian defence minister, he indicated.

India has also invited Egypt as a guest country to G20 during its presidency of the 2022-23 period; it is expected that the two countries will cooperate extensively under this umbrella as well, he noted.

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