Egypt considering allocating land to Indian industries in Suez Canal Economic Zone
Egypt President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi

New Delhi: Around half a dozen agreements are expected to be inked between India and Egypt to ramp up cooperation in a range of areas including agriculture, IT and cyberspace during Egyptian President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi’s visit here next week.

Further expansion of defence and security cooperation is also expected to be a major area of focus of Sisi’s trip with Egypt showing keen interest in procuring military platforms like Light Combat Aircraft Tejas, Aakash missile and some radars from India.

Sisi will be the first Egyptian President and the fifth leader from the Middle-East to grace the Republic Day celebrations as the chief guest. He is scheduled to arrive in India on January 24.

India is keen to expand ties with Egypt, a key player in the politics of both the Arab world as well as Africa. It is also seen as a major gateway to markets in Africa and Europe.

New Delhi considers Sisi as a strong leader who has shown determination in tackling terrorism with an iron hand, people familiar with the upcoming visit said on Friday.

India also considers Egypt as a moderate voice in the Arab World as it has been taking a “very balanced” stand vis-a-vis India and issues concerning India such as Kashmir at the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC).

The people said the two sides are expected to sign about half a dozen agreements to expand cooperation in areas of agriculture, IT, cyber-security and culture after wide-ranging talks between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Sisi on January 25.

The Egyptian President will also interact with the business leaders at an event. At the Republic Day celebrations on January 26, an Egyptian military contingent comprising more than 100 personnel will participate in the parade.

We expect the visit to further elevate the bilateral relations, said one of the people cited above.

In reflection of the growing bilateral ties, India last year sent 61,000 tonnes of wheat to Egypt, relaxing restrictions on export of the food grain.

The people said Egypt has requested for more supplies of wheat and India is examining it.

They said expansion of defence and security cooperation has been a major highpoint of the ties.

There is greater convergence between the two countries in tackling terrorism, including checking terror financing and Egypt is keen on expansion of cyber security cooperation, they noted.

The first-ever joint exercise between the special forces of the two countries is currently underway in Jodhpur. Egypt invited India for a tri-services exercise in September this year.

The people said the Egyptian side is looking at procuring from India state-of-the-art weapons platforms including aircraft, missiles and radars.

They are interested in LCA Tejas, some advanced light helicopters, Akash missiles and smart anti-airfield systems, they said.

In July last year, the IAF participated in a month-long tactical leadership programme in Egypt with three Su-30 MKI jets and two C-17 transport aircraft. In September, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh paid a three-day visit to Egypt.

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