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Highest Honour, Meet With El-Sisi, Visit to Al-Hakim Mosque: PM Modi Woos Egypt

President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi conferred PM Modi with ‘Order of the Nile’ award, Egypt’s highest state honour.

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Prime Minister Narendra Modi held strategic talks with Egyptian President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi in Cairo on Sunday, 25 June.

"The talks with President @AlsisiOfficial were excellent. We reviewed the full range of India-Egypt relations and agreed to further augment economic and cultural linkages," Modi tweeted after the meeting.

This is the first bilateral visit to Egypt by an Indian PM since 1997. On Day 2 of his two-day trip, the prime minister received Egypt's highest state honour called the 'Order of the Nile' by El-Sisi.

Besides taking a tour of the pyramids of Giza, PM Modi also visited the historic 11th-century Al-Hakim Mosque in Cairo and paid tributes to Indian soldiers at Cairo’s Heliopolis War Cemetery who fought the World War I in Egypt and Palestine.

Here are all the developments after PM Modi's arrival in Cairo so far:

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'Cementing Friendship': PM's Diaspora Outreach in Cairo

PM Modi arrived in Cairo on Saturday and was personally received by Egyptian Prime Minister Mostafa Madbouly at the Cairo airport, followed by a grand welcome by the Indian diaspora.

  • PM Modi was received by Egyptian Prime Minister Mostafa Madbouly at the Cairo airport.

    (Photo Courtesy: Twitter/MEA)

He later met members of the diaspora, including members of the Dawoodi Bohra community, and "appreciated them for their achievements and acknowledged their role in cementing the friendship," the PMO said.

  • PM Modi received a grand welcome from the Indian diaspora at the Cairo airport.

    (Photo Courtesy: Twitter/MEA)

PM Modi lauded the community for their contribution towards strengthening India-Egypt ties.

"Deeply moved by the warm welcome from the Indian diaspora in Egypt. Their support and affection truly embody the timeless bonds of our nations. Also noteworthy was people from Egypt wearing Indian dresses. Truly, a celebration of our shared cultural linkages," PM Modi tweeted.

  • PM Mod interacted with members of the diaspora in Cairo.

    (Photo Courtesy: Twitter/MEA)

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Trade Talks Held With PM Mostafa Madbouly

After his arrival on Saturday, Modi held a meeting with the India Unit, a group of high-level ministers constituted by El-Sisi in March to enhance India-Egypt relations. The meeting also saw the presence of seven members of the Egyptian Cabinet, led by Prime Minister Mostafa Madbouly.

The talks reportedly focussed on strengthening trade relations and enhancing strategic engagements between the two nations.

  • PM Modi held bilateral talks with Egyptian counterpart Mostafa Madbouly.

    (Photo: Twitter/MEA)

"In his first engagement in Cairo, PM @narendramodi held a meeting with the newly setup India Unit in the Egyptian Cabinet @CabinetEgy, headed by PM Mostafa Madbouly. Seven Cabinet Ministers and senior officials were present in the meeting," Arindam Bagchi, official spokesperson of India's ministry of external affairs tweeted.

Bagchi said that the discussions focussed on "deepening cooperation across a range of areas including trade and investment, renewable energy, green hydrogen, IT, digital payment platforms, pharma and people to people ties."

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Grand Mufti, Prominent Yoga Instructors: Who PM Modi Met

The key personalities and dignitaries PM Modi met:

  • Prof Shawky Ibrahim Allam, Grand Mufti of Egypt

  • Hassan Allam, CEO of Hassan Allam Holding Company

  • Author and petroleum strategist Tarek Heggy

  • Yoga instructors, Reem Jabak and Nada Adel

  • PM Modi with Prof Shawky Ibrahim Allam, Grand Mufti of Egypt.

    (Photo Courtesy: Twitter/MEA)

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PM Modi Visits Imam Al-Hakim Mosque: Why It is Significant

PM Modi visited to the Imam al-Hakim bi Amr Allah Mosque also golds great significance, particularly for the Dawoodi Bohra community in India.

"Interacting with community leaders, PM praised the strong people to people ties between India and Egypt," the MEA said.

  • PM Modi visited to the Imam al-Hakim bi Amr Allah Mosque

    (Photo Courtesy: Twitter/MEA)

The community has been credited by the Prime Minister for their support in governing the state of Gujarat, where he previously served as Chief Minister.

Modi has maintained a close relationship with the Dawoodi Bohras, starting from his tenure as Chief Minister of Gujarat. The visit to the al-Hakim bi-Amr Allah Mosque, an important cultural site for the Dawoodi Bohra community in Cairo and its is an endeavor undertaken by the Dawoodi Bohra community.

The community displayed unwavering support for Prime Minister Modi during crucial moments, such as his overseas events in 2014, like the Madison Square Garden gathering in New York and the Olympic Park Arena address in Sydney. However, they also faces internal challenges.

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PM Modi Tours Pyramids of Giza

On Sunday, Modi also squeezed in time to see one of the Seven Wonders of the World – the great pyramids of Giza, located on the outskirts of Cairo.

He was accompanied by PM Mostafa Madbouly. "I thank PM Mostafa Madbouly for accompanying me to the Pyramids. We had a rich discussion on the cultural histories of our nations and how to deepen these linkages in the times to come," Modi tweeted.

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Strategic Significance of PM Modi's Visit

The announcement of PM Narendra Modi's visit to Egypt comes at a significant time, as Egypt has formally applied for membership in the BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China, South Africa) group and plans to reduce its dependence on the US dollar, and align with the BRICS' objective of promoting alternate currencies in international trade, including its own currency.

The discussions during the visit will cover areas such as defense cooperation, education, and Egypt's application to join the BRICS. With its abundant natural resources and strategic control over the Suez Canal, Egypt's potential inclusion in the bloc holds value and can contribute to its rapid economic growth.

Moreover, increased trade and investment between Egypt and the BRICS countries can foster economic development and enhance cooperation within the group.

Furthermore, Egypt's application to join the BRICS may influence the perspectives of other Western Asian and African nations towards the group.

Modi has also tried to strengthen ties with Cairo exemplified by inviting the country as a special guest at the G20 summit during India's presidency.

President Sisi's invitation to Prime Minister Modi is but a reciprocation of India's decision to have him as the chief guest for India's Republic Day celebrations.

However, Indian officials have said that the partnership encompasses four key elements: political, defense, and security collaboration; economic engagement; scientific and academic cooperation; and cultural and people-to-people contacts.

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More Than Symbolism & Photo Opportunities?

While the focal point of the trip is Modi's visit to the historic Imam al-Hakim bi Amr Allah Mosque, the visit is expected to beyond optics and symbolism.

Ever since India and Egypt took their bilateral relationship to a new level by elevating it to a strategic partnership. New Delhi aims to emphasise its strong relationship with the West Asian region, particularly after previous controversies.

Although the Egypt government did not act on then-BJP Spokesperson Nupur Sharma's comments against Islam, two religious voices of authority issued strong statements. Egypt was one of 20 Gulf countries, north African and Asian countries who registered some form of protest against the comments.

Modi and Sisi had agreed to foster greater cooperation in various fields, including politics, security, economy, and science.

Moreover, among the topics of discussion, the ongoing Ukraine conflict is likely to feature prominently.

Egypt is facing an economic crisis exacerbated by the conflict, leading to a sharp increase in food prices. India's assistance in providing relief funds until Egypt negotiates a loan with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) will be a crucial part of talks. In the past, India has lifted export restrictions on wheat and provided significant amounts of wheat to Egypt.

Another key issue to be addressed is terrorism. Modi and Sisi have expressed a shared understanding that terrorism poses the greatest threat to humanity. Both leaders acknowledge the necessity of strong measures to combat cross-border terrorism and are committed to convincing the international community through joint efforts.

Vinay Kwatra, India's Foreign Secretary, highlighted the strong political exchanges between India and Egypt, with significant interactions at the ministerial level.

He mentioned that the Indian External Affairs Minister, Defense Minister, and Minister of Environment have previously visited Egypt, while several Egyptian government ministers have also made trips to India. Kwatra also noted that a delegation led by the Chairperson of the Suez Canal Authority is currently visiting India.

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