Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit (June 24-25) to Cairo brings India and Egypt closer to each other. This visit was an important event as Egypt has traditionally been one of India’s important trading partners in the African continent.
Observers say that during his Cairo sojourn, Prime Minister Modi had a highly fruitful dialogue with Egyptian President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi.
Egypt To Be Guest Country at G-20
The two sides signed four agreements. The most important of them was on the strategic partnership between the two nations. It was signed by Prime Minister Modi and President el- Sisi.
The two sides signed Memorandam of Understanding (MoU) in the fields of Agriculture, Archaeology and Antiquities, and Competition Law. They also discussed multilateral cooperation at the G-20 (Egypt would be a “guest country” at the upcoming G-20 summit to be held in India in September this year). During his Egyptian sojourn, Prime Minister Modi visited Heliopolis Commonwealth War Grave Cemetery. He met members of the Indian community and visited the Al-Hakim mosque. Modi met Grand Mufti of Egypt Shawki Allam. Prime Minister Modi also met famous Egyptian author Tarek Heggy.
Paying Homage to Bharatiya Soldiers
Such gestures of Prime Minister Modi are sure to promote better people-to-people ties between India and Egypt. The Heliopolis Commonwealth War Grave Cemetery commemorates over 4,300 Indian soldiers, who had perished in Egypt and Aden during World War I. Similarly, the Al-Hakim mosque has been very close to the hearts of the Dawoodi Bohra community in Egypt as well as India.
Today, the people of India and Egypt are confronted with the evils of Islamist terrorism and gender inequality. Given the well-known progressive views of Allam and Heggy, Prime Minister Modi’s interactions with them should be very helpful in combating the twin evils.
It is heartening that the Indo-Egyptian ties have improved a lot since Prime Minister Modi took over the reins of Government in New Delhi in 2014. Recently, Prime Minister Modi wrote to his G-20 counterparts to include in the group the African Union, of which Egypt is a leading member.
Prime Minister Modi’s visit to Cairo happened to be the first at the Indian PM-level since 1997. In October last year, External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar visited Egypt. In July and August last year, the Indian Air Force (IAF) and the Egyptian Air Force (EAF) conducted various exercises at the Egyptian Fighter Weapons School near Cairo. President el-Sisi visited India as the Chief Guest at its 2023 Republic Day celebrations. During that sojourn, the two countries announced they would elevate their bilateral relationship to a “strategic partnership”.
Observers opine that relations between India and Egypt are expected to grow further. Cairo needs New Delhi to expand its trade and investments in Egypt. It thinks India can help Egypt deal with its ongoing economic crisis. More than 50 Indian companies are said to have already invested over $3.15 billion in the Egyptian infrastructure sector today.
New Delhi, too, needs Egypt. The West Asian nation is wedged between the Red and the Mediterranean Seas. It is considered the gateway to North Africa and Europe. Over 12 per cent of global trade passes through Egypt’s Suez Canal.