Egyptian President likely to be Republic Day chief guest


India is expected to invite Egyptian President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi as the chief guest for the Republic Day parade and celebration this year, according to people in the know, a move that can boost New Delhi’s ties with the Arab world and Africa.

The invitation for the in-person presence at the Republic Day Parade is understood to have been extended. India-Egypt partnership has witnessed a revival over the last few years with the revival in defence ties and back-to-back visits by foreign and defence ministers to Cairo this year.

Egypt, the second biggest economy in Africa, is the most populous country in the Arab world. The country has de-hyphenated its ties with India and Pakistan and Cairo’s support is critical to counter-terrorism and in deradicalisation, sources said.

While Prime Minister Narendra Modi had twice planned to visit Cairo–in 2020 and 2021–but had to drop the plan because of the pandemic, President Sisi is no stranger to India, having visited the country in 2015 and 2016.
Egypt plays a critical role in countering the radical Muslim Brotherhood and is a gateway to the African markets and even some European markets. Egypt is keen to join BRICS and has become SCO (Shanghai Cooperation Organisation) dialogue partner this year. Under Sisi, Egypt has improved its ties with Russia.

India and Egypt, during foreign minister S Jaishankar’s visit, had decided to explore opportunities in new and renewable energy, trade and investment, education, and tourism and connectivity. They had agreed to promote independent thinking in a polarised world. Egypt has also been invited to the G20 Summit, which is to be held here next year.

Egypt has been one of India’s largest trading partners in Africa. Trade between the two countries touched a record high of $7.26 billion in FY22.

More than 50 Indian companies are present in Egypt in sectors such as manufacturing, chemicals, energy, infrastructure and retail. They use Egypt as a manufacturing destination for export to the EU, North America and the Gulf countries, providing direct employment to some 38,000 Egyptians. Indian investments in Egypt have exceeded $3.15 billion. Indian companies are expected to invest another $800 million in the country.

Sisi and his defence minister, Mohamed Zaki, had held a discussion on military and security matters when defence minister Rajnath Singh visited Cairo. Zaki and Singh signed an agreement for military cooperation. Special focus is also being given to partnership between the air force of the two nations and there are reports that Egypt is keen to purchase India’s Tejas fighter jets.


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