India-Egypt: Strengthening Ties

India and Egypt are set to deepen their partnership as Egyptian President Abdel Fattah El Sisi arrives in New Delhi on January 24 for the Republic Day celebrations, where he will be the chief guest. The two countries are expected to seal around half a dozen agreements during the visit, with dialogues on defence, security and new energy initiatives at the forefront.

Defence and Security Cooperation

  • Collaboration on security, counter-terrorism, and defence-related matters are expected to feature prominently in the bilateral talks during Mr. El Sisi's visit.
  • As a symbol of closer military ties, the Republic Day parade is on track to have a contingent of 180 personnel from the Egyptian armed forces this year. Challenges from unmanned aerial vehicles and cyber threats may also feature in the India-Egypt Joint Working Group on terrorism that will meet after the visit.

Pragmatic Diplomacy

  • The growing proximity between the two nations has been helped by Egypt's display of quiet pragmatism on issues that are sensitive to India. This was on display in 2022 when public protests broke out in the Gulf Arab countries after former BJP spokesperson Nupur Sharma made comments on the Prophet of Islam that were interpreted as offensive. While countries like Kuwait made their displeasure known to the Indian authorities, President El Sisi's government did not raise the issue in any significant manner.
  • Egypt's studied silence in this matter understandably helped India, as Cairo's voice on Islamic issues carries great weight as it hosts the Al Azhar University, the oldest university in the world and the biggest centre of Sunni religious scholarship. South Block also took a positive view of Egypt's attempts to play a balanced role at the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation where Pakistan has floated several resolutions on Kashmir and other internal Indian issues in the last few years but failed to receive robust support from Mr. El Sisi's government.

Energy Cooperation

  • The visit by President El Sisi will provide India an opportunity to showcase its growing strength in the field of green hydrogen.
  • At least three Indian companies have invested several billion dollars in the production of green hydrogen and India is looking to export this clean energy source to Egypt. The two countries are also expected to explore cooperation in the fields of solar and wind energy.

Agricultural Cooperation

  • Apart from a growing accommodation of each other's political concerns, there's also deepening agricultural cooperation between the two sides. This has been in focus over the last year when Egypt's supply of agricultural products was disrupted by the Ukraine crisis.
  • Egypt placed an order for a large consignment of wheat last year, but the supply from the Indian side was disrupted because of the embargo that the government imposed to stabilise the domestic agricultural scenario. However, Cairo received an exemption from the embargo and as a result, a consignment of 61,000 tonnes of wheat was sent subsequently.

Synopsis

The visit of Egyptian President Abdel Fattah El Sisi to India is expected to further strengthen the ties between the two countries in various fields including defence, security, energy, and agriculture. The two sides have been brought closer by Egypt's pragmatic diplomacy in arenas such as the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation and this is expected to continue in the future.

Written by IAS POINT

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