Egypt, India seek to upgrade ties to strategic partnership: Sisi in New Delhi

Ahram Online , MENA , Wednesday 25 Jan 2023

President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi said on Wednesday that Egypt and India are seeking to upgrade ties to a strategic partnership as the two countries celebrate the 75th anniversary of establishing diplomatic ties.

Egypt s President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi (L) speaks during a joint media briefing with India s Prime Minister Narendra Modi at the Hyderabad House in New Delhi on January 25, 2023. AFP


El-Sisi is currently on a three-day visit to India. His statement came during a press conference with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi in which the Egyptian president referred to the "integrated" capabilities of Egypt and India that could lead to a "solid system" in the face of common challenges and emerging global crises, especially in the energy and food sectors.

El-Sisi, who arrived on Tuesday in New Delhi at Modi's invitation to participate as chief guest in celebrations of India's Republic Day on Thursday, received a ceremonial welcome at Rashtrapati Bhavan – the official residence of the president of India at the western end of Rajpath in New Delhi – and was welcomed by President Droupadi Murmu and premier Modi.

The president then arrived at Hyderabad House to hold summit talks with the Indian premier.

El-Sisi thanked Modi for his invitation, hospitality, and generous reception, which, he said reflected the strong relations between the two countries and nations.

He reiterated his congratulations to the Indian nation, government, and people on Republic Day, adding that it is a great privilege to be a guest of honour and participate in the glorious national day.

"I extend sincere greetings to the friendly country of India, its government and people," El-Sisi told reporters at the Indian presidential palace, wishing the South Asian country further prosperity, security, peace, progress, and development.

Modi hailed in a tweet on Tuesday El-Sisi’s visit to India as historic and a matter of immense happiness for all Indians, adding that thanks to the wise and successful leadership of President El-Sisi, cooperation with Egypt has become stronger over the past few years.

Modi said strategic coordination with Egypt is good for peace and prosperity in the region.

El-Sisi said that the talks dwelt on the optimum ways to combat terrorism and extremist thought.

Egypt and India have a common vision in this regard and that joint cooperation will help uproot violence, which threatens the whole world, not only Egypt and India, added the Egyptian president.

He added that an agreement was reached on the need to promote cooperation in the security field and to increase coordination in this vital sector.

"No development can be attained without security and stability," El-Sisi said.

Developing relations to strategic partnership

Egypt and India are working on elevating their relationship to a strategic partnership. El-Sisi and Modi unveiled plans to boost cooperation in defence and security, counter-terrorism and trade after signing five agreements for cooperation in IT, cyber-security, culture, youth matters, and broadcasting.

“We have decided that under the India-Egypt strategic partnership we will develop a long-term framework for comprehensive cooperation in political, security, economic, and scientific fields,” Hindustan Times quoted Modi as saying.

The two sides also decided to strengthen cooperation between the defence industries of India and Egypt, the Indian premier added.

El-Sisi stated that Egypt and India agreed on fostering strategic cooperation in several domains covering agriculture, higher education, chemicals, fertilisers, medications, and IT.

The president affirmed the significance of assessing regular channels for exchanging experiences and knowledge regarding successful experiments and initiatives in the two countries, particularly in developing local industry and small and medium-sized projects and providing decent life for citizens.

El-Sisi told Modi Egypt welcomes the flow of more Indian tourists to Egypt.

He also pointed out that cooperation in defence domains figured high on the agenda of the talks, saying the two countries stressed maintaining coordination, joint exercises and exchange of expertise, in addition to tapping additional horizons for cooperation.

El-Sisi and Modi underscored the importance of maintaining work to raise the volume of trade exchange and to capitalise on production and exportation abilities and advantages of the two countries, with a view to responding to economic and social priorities to stimulate foreign investments.

Egypt and India agreed on maximising cooperation on all fronts and forging more partnerships in new areas, including cooperation in new and renewable energy and green hydrogen production, El-Sisi said.

Relations between Egypt and India are characterised by balance and stability, El-Sisi said, adding that “we have been evolving very positively all along.”

Modi said his talks with El-Sisi focused on upgrading the strategic partnership between Cairo and New Delhi, noting that a long-term and more inclusive development plan would be designed to enhance political, defence, economic, and scientific cooperation.

Discussions also tackled healthcare and global supply chains, Modi said, adding they also discussed how to amend food import chains and the drug industry that were most harmed by the Ukrainian crisis.

Modi said they stressed the importance of increasing investment and trade exchange in these sectors, while El-Sisi said he is looking forward to increasing Indian investments in Egypt in various fields, with special focus on the Suez Canal Economic Zone.

The Indian premier said the two sides decided to increase bilateral trade to $12 billion in the next five years.

Earlier this week, India’s Ambassador to Cairo Ajit 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 trade between the two countries continues to grow in 2022-23.

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.

The significance of the visit

El-Sisi’s visit to India, Gupte said, will be "a momentous occasion that heralds a new dawn in the two countries’ relations."

This is the first time an Egyptian president is the chief guest of India's Republic Day, which marks the day India’s constitution came into effect on 26 January 1950.

According to Indian Express, an invitation to be the Republic Day chief guest is highly symbolic from the Indian government’s perspective, as New Delhi carefully decides on its chief guest for the Republic Day. The choice of chief guest every year is based on strategic, diplomatic, and geopolitical factors as well as business interests.

Modi had previously met El-Sisi on various occasions, including on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA), New York, in September 2015. President Mukherjee and Modi also met El-Sisi during the Third India-Africa Forum Summit in New Delhi in October 2015.

El-Sisi also paid a state visit to India in September 2016.

Both countries have a strong relationship dating back to the 1950s and were among the founding members of the Non-Aligned Movement. India is also eyeing Egypt as a hub to access markets in Africa and Europe.

In November 2022, India -- the president of the Group of 20 (G20) in 2023 -- invited Egypt to participate as a guest country in the G20 meetings, in which Ambassador Ragy El-Etreby, assistant minister of foreign affairs for international and regional multilateral economic affairs, will be the personal representative of President El-Sisi at the meetings.

On Wednesday, El-Sisi thanked the Indian prime minister for inviting Egypt to attend the G20 meeting.

El-Etreby recently said that "Cairo intends to closely cooperate with the Indian presidency of the group" on files of mutual priority, including enhancing global food security and supporting international financing institutions to better face successive crises.

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