Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi has met Egypt’s President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi in Cairo on a rare visit during which both sides pledged to deepen their strategic partnership.
Modi and el-Sisi “signed a joint declaration to elevate relations to a strategic partnership”, which they had first announced in January when el-Sisi visited New Delhi, a spokesman for the Egyptian president said on Sunday.
The two leaders agreed to boost investment by India – the world’s most-populous nation – in Egypt, which has the Arab world’s largest population and is now in the grips of an economic downturn.
Both sides said the bilateral talks covered areas including trade and investment, renewable energy, information technology and pharmaceuticals.
The two also discussed “further cooperation in G-20, highlighting the issues of food and energy insecurity, climate change and the need for Global South to have a concerted voice”, a statement from Modi’s office said, adding that the talks additionally addressed defence and security ties.
El-Sisi welcomed Modi at the presidential palace in Cairo and bestowed upon him the country’s highest honour, the Order of the Nile, as the two leaders affirmed their “mutual commitment” to strengthen relations.
This would include “increasing high-level visits”, facilitating direct flights between the capitals, and “developing Indian investments in Egypt”, according to the presidency in Cairo.
Last January, the two leaders agreed to increase Indian investments in Egypt, which currently stand at more than $3.15bn, including through a potential “dedicated land area for Indian industries in the Suez Canal Economic Zone”.
Those projects include a $12bn green hydrogen plant to be built by Indian firm ACME.
India is already Egypt’s seventh-largest trading partner, according to data from Cairo’s central bank, with trade reaching $7bn last year.
Modi, who arrived in Cairo on Saturday, is the first Indian prime minister to pay a state visit to Egypt in more than two decades. His two-day stop came six months after el-Sisi was in New Delhi as an official guest during India’s Independence Day.
Modi also invited the Egyptian leader to attend a summit of the Group of 20 leading rich and developing countries, which India will host in September.
Earlier this year, both countries agreed to boost trade cooperation. India is one of the top five importers of Egyptian products, including crude oil and liquefied natural gas, salt, cotton, inorganic chemicals and oilseeds. Notable Indian exports to Egypt include cotton yarn, coffee, herbs, tobacco, lentils, vehicle parts, ships, boats and electrical machinery.
Following his talks with el-Sisi, Modi visited a historic mosque, Cairo’s Al-Hakim, which was recently renovated with the help of the India-based Dawoodi Bohra community. He also paid tribute to Indian soldiers who died in World War I and are buried in the Heliopolis War Cemetery in Cairo.
The two governments signed agreements in the fields of agriculture, archaeology, antiquities and competition law, said Arindam Bagchi, a spokesman for India’s Ministry of External Affairs.
“My visit to Egypt was a historic one. It will add renewed vigor to India-Egypt relations and will benefit the people of our nations,” Modi wrote on Twitter before departing for New Delhi.
SOURCE: NEWS AGENCIES