This will be the first time that the President of Egypt will be the chief guest at India’s Republic Day, reports Ayushi Agarwal
India and Egypt are expected to sign around half-a-dozen Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) in areas ranging from agriculture and digital during Egyptian President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi’s visit to the country.
The Egyptian President will be the chief guest for the Republic Day celebrations. A 180-member military contingent from Egypt will take part in the celebrations.
Abdel Fattah El-Sisi is scheduled to arrive in New Delhi on January 24 and will be greeted by Minister of State for External Affairs Rajkumar Ranjan Singh.
The next day, on January 25, the Egyptian President will hold talks with Prime Minister Narendra Modi and a press statement will be made by the two leaders.
The visiting President will also meet Vice President Jagdeep Dhankar and attend a banquet hosted by President Droupadi Murmu.
Earlier in the day, he will be accorded a ceremonial welcome at the Rashtrapati Bhawan.
The Egyptian President is also expected to interact with the Indian business community during his visit.
A commemorative stamp marking 75 years of diplomatic ties between India and Egypt will be released during the Egyptian President’s visit.
This will be the first time that the President of Egypt will be the chief guest at India’s Republic Day. El-Sisi will be the fifth West Asian leader to be the chief guest at Republic Day. This will El-Sisi’s third visit to India.
There have been personal interactions between the Egyptian leader and PM Modi.
The Prime Minister visited Cairo in August 2015 while El-Sisi was in India for the India-Africa Forum in October 2015 and on a bilateral state visit in September 2016.
The two leaders had also spoken over the phone in 2020. Apart from this, Egypt has been invited as a guest country for the G20 summit that will be held in India later this year.
There also have been several exchanges at minister-level, including the visit of the Indian Defence Minister and External Affairs minister last year to Egypt.
In terms of defence cooperation, the two countries have robust military cooperation. When it comes to the exercises, IAF or the Indian Air Force participated in the first-ever joint exercise in Egypt.
Notably, the first-ever joint exercise between the special forces of the Indian Army and the Egyptian Army named ‘Exercise Cyclone-I’ is considered important. The exercise, which will boost defence cooperation between the two countries, is underway in Jodhpur.
The deepening of the defence cooperation is expected to be discussed during the Egyptian leader’s visit.
Egypt has also shown some interest in purchasing Tejas light combat aircraft with officials from Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) in touch with the Egyptian side for more discussions.
In terms of the current economic situation, like much of the world, the Arab state was hit hard by Covid Pandemic and is battling an economic crisis. This is also an area that is likely to be discussed during the visit.
The Arab State is relying on the resumption of tourist flows and has come up with certain economic liberalization polices. Egypt is also looking at Indian companies for investment that would generate employment.
The issues pertaining to wheat supply are also expected to be discussed between the two countries. India supported Egypt and made an exemption of up to 61,000 tonnes of wheat to Egypt in May last year in three tranches despite a temporary ban on exports imposed by the government.
Other than the importance of its geostrategic location, specially the Suez Canal from where twelve percent of the world trade passes, Egypt is also one of the most populous states in the Arab world which makes it a key player in the politics of the Arab world.
From a commercial perspective, Egypt is a major market for India in terms of it being a gateway to Europe and Africa. When it comes to the bilateral trade between the two countries which was recorded at an all-time high of US dollars 7.2 billion between 2021 and 2022, the two countries hope for trade to increase to about USD 12 billion in the next five years.
On security and counter-terrorism cooperation, there is a joint working group between India and Egypt and the next meeting of the joint committee is scheduled for next month after the Egyptian President’s visit.
Notably, in forums like OIC or Organisation of Islamic Cooperation, Egypt has never supported Pakistan. Islamabad has frequently raked up Kashmir issue in the organisation.
Last year, India had invited leaders of the five Central Asian Republics, who were to visit Delhi for the India-Central Asia Summit, as chief guests for the Republic Day celebrations. However, the visit was cancelled due to the rise in COVID-19 cases. (ANI)