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Strategic Ties: The Central Condition

India and Egypt have decided to boost strategic ties in the coming days. During his recent visit to New Delhi, Abdel Fattah Saeed Hussein Khalil el-Sisi, the President of Egypt, assured Prime Minister of India Narendra Modi that his country was keen to join hands with India in the fight against terrorism. He also said that Egypt, which enjoys key strategic location, could become India’s gateway to Africa. President el-Sisi arrived in New Delhi to attend India’s Republic Day celebrations on January 26, 2023, as the Chief Guest. This is the first time when India invited an Egyptian President as the Chief Guest for the event.

The visiting President held talks with Prime Minister Modi to discuss various important bilateral, regional and global issues on January 25, a day after his arrival in the Indian capital. Later, the Indian Prime Minister announced that the two friendly nations decided to boost defence cooperation, apart from strengthening the exchange of information related to counter-terrorism.

According to PM Modi, they also discussed various ways to increase the volume of bilateral trade, as Cairo and New Delhi wanted to take bilateral trade to USD 12 billion in the next five years. In the presence of PM Modi, President el-Sisi said that Egypt was eager to bolster defence industry cooperation with India.

Later, Arindam Bagchi, the spokesperson of the Indian Ministry of External Affairs, tweeted: “Deepening our bond with Egypt – the natural bridge that connects Asia with Africa. PM @narendramodi and President @AlsisiOfficial hold talks, adding momentum to the multifaceted India-Egypt relations marked by civilisational, cultural & economic linkages and deep-rooted P2P ties.” It may be noted that it was el-Sisi’s third visit to India, as he had visited the country in 2015, and also in 2016.

Bagchi informed the media that officials of the two countries signed a number of agreements in the presence of PM Modi and President el-Sisi on January 25. Some of those agreements were on mutual cooperation in youth development, cultural exchange, mutual cooperation in the field of technology, and mutual cooperation in broadcasting of national media and cyber security.

Incidentally, Egypt is one of the main gateways to markets in Africa and Europe. Hence, India is interested in expanding the range of cooperation with Egypt.

Meanwhile, President el-Sisi’s arrival in India has brought forth, yet again, the history of the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) and the close relationship the two countries have been sharing for the past 75 years. India starts the process of selection of Chief Guest nearly six months in advance. The most central consideration is the nature of relationship between India and the country concerned. Another factor is the association with the NAM that began in the late 1950s and early 1960s. Being invited as the Chief Guest at Republic Day celebrations is the highest honour India confers in terms of protocol. The Chief Guest is front and the main person at the foremost place of prominence in a number of ceremonial activities, which have over time become a part of the fabric of the event and the run-up to it.

Before becoming the president of Egypt in 2014, el-Sisi was the Military Chief of his country and the Minister of Defence. He succeeded the democratically-elected Government of Mohamed Mohamed Morsi Eissa al-Ayyat after a coup in 2013. El-Sisi won the National Election in 2014, on an economic development plank.

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