Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Visit to Egypt
Prime Minister Narendra Modi went on a two-day state visit to Egypt from 24th June to 25th June 2023 following his state visit to the US. It is the first time an Indian PM has visited Egypt in the last 26 years, so it has gained historical significance. India and Egypt signed several vital agreements during Modi’s state visit to Egypt. The strategic partnership agreement is the most significant agreement among the various agreements signed between India and Egypt.
India and Egypt are two world’s oldest civilizations that have enjoyed a history of close contact from ancient times. Ashoka’s edicts refer to his relations with Egypt under Ptolemy II. Similarly, there was documented evidence of Malabar women being employed as maids in Pharaonic palaces. Moreover, Egyptian influence was evident in the Sultanate of Delhi from the Slave Dynasty to the Mughal Dynasty.
In modern times, Mahatma Gandhi and Saad Zaghloul shared a common goal of the independence of their countries. Similarly, Jawaharlal Nehru and Gamal Abdel Nasser maintained a close friendship, leading to the signing of a Friendship Treaty between Egypt and India in 1955.
More than one-fourth of the country to which India exports defense products are from West Asia and North Africa (WANA) region, which uses the Suez Canal as their maritime trade route. Egypt has ownership and sovereignty over the Suez Canal, so India’s relationship with Egypt is paramount.
India and Egypt have transformed their relations from being the founders of the Non-Alignment Movement during the Cold War to presently becoming strategic partners.
India extended its support to Egypt during the Suez Crisis of 1956 and the Six-Day War of 1967. Moreover, India helped Egypt and the Arabs rebuild their economies after the Six-Day War of 1967.
India enhanced its relations with Egypt by granting Egypt the “Most Favored Nation” status in 1978. The bilateral relations between these countries were expected to reach strategic saturation after the then-Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak visited India in 2008. However, it was interrupted in 2011 as the Arab Spring ousted Hosni Mubarak and caused political turmoil in Egypt.
Since 2014 India-Egypt relations have witnessed significant progress due to the substantial efforts made to enhance their cooperation and elevate their ties to a new height.
Strategic Partnership Agreement and Green Collaboration
The strategic partnership agreement between India and Egypt was hailed as a landmark development in their bilateral relationship. The agreement was signed by Prime Minister Modi and President El-Sisi, highlighting the importance of collaboration in areas such as green and renewable energy.
Memoranda of Understanding in Various Fields
In addition to the strategic partnership agreement, three Memoranda of Understanding (MoUs) were signed between India and Egypt. These MoUs covered cooperation in the fields of agriculture, archaeology and antiquities, and competition law, reflecting the diverse areas of collaboration between the two nations.
Order of the Nile: Honoring Prime Minister Modi
During the visit, President El-Sisi bestowed upon Prime Minister Modi the Order of the Nile, Egypt’s highest state honor. This gesture symbolized the warm relations between the two countries and demonstrated Egypt’s appreciation for India and its people.
Discussions and One-to-One Conversations
The official discussions between the leaders took place at the Al-Ittihadiya Palace in Cairo. The newly formed “India Unit” within the Egyptian Cabinet was recognized as a valuable mechanism for facilitating bilateral collaborations. Prime Minister Modi and President El-Sisi engaged in a one-to-one conversation, underscoring the personal nature of their interaction.
Commemorating Indian Soldiers and Cultural Visits
As part of the visit, Prime Minister Modi paid homage to over 4,300 Indian soldiers who had lost their lives in Egypt and Aden during World War I. He also visited the Al Hakim mosque, further showcasing the cultural exchanges between India and Egypt.
Engagement with Prominent Egyptians and People-to-People Exchanges
Prime Minister Modi met with Tarek Heggy, a renowned Egyptian author and petroleum strategist. Their discussions covered various topics, including radicalism and gender equality, intending to foster more vibrant people-to-people exchanges between India and Egypt.
Egypt’s Role in the G-20 Summit
Egypt has been designated as a “guest country” at the upcoming G-20 summit scheduled for September. President El-Sisi is expected to attend the summit, further enhancing Egypt’s role in international fora and strengthening its ties with India.