During Indian defence minister Rajnath Singh’s three-day trip to Cairo, the two countries signed a memorandum of agreement to strengthen ties in all areas of mutual interest.
According to a public statement released by the Indian defence ministry, Rajnath Singh and his Egyptian counterpart General Mohamed Zaki agreed to develop ideas for enhancing bilateral defence industry cooperation in a time-bound way. Rajnath Singh was expected to sign a contract for state-owned aircraft manufacturer HAL-built light combat aircraft TEJAS before taking out for Cairo.
It becomes relevance because the Arab nation has previously expressed interest in buying TEJAS aircraft from HAL.
Egypt is one of six nations that have expressed interest in the TEJAS jets, the Narendra Modi government notified Parliament last month.
Note that this is the first time since the 1960s that the two nations are getting closer and developing bilateral defence ties.
The colonial past of the two nations unites them. When the globe was split into two philosophies, the then-leadership, including Gamal Abdel Nasser of Egypt and Pt. Jawaharlal Nehru of India, assisted in reaching new heights.
Along with other nations, India and Egypt selected non-aligned movements. Later on, though, the two nations drifted apart as Cairo inched closer to the bloc led by the United States while India leaned more towards the Soviet Union.
The two air forces conducted “Desert Warrior,” their first-ever cooperative tactical air exercise, in July. ACM VR Chaudhari, the commander of the Indian Air Force, travelled to Cairo in November and participated in a number of activities sponsored by the Egyptian Air Force.
In July, the commander of the Egyptian Air Force, Air Marshal Mohamed Abbas Helmy Md Hashem, travelled to India to explore defence cooperations. The two ministers met to explore measures to strengthen defence ties and came to an agreement to improve the conduct of joint exercises and the interchange of troops for training, particularly in the field of counter-insurgency.
“Signing of MoU by the two Defence Ministers on cooperation in the field of defence was a milestone event during the visit, which will pave the way for enhancing defence cooperation across all sectors of mutual interest,” the ministry said.
As part of the 12th DefExpo in Gandhinagar, Gujarat, between October 18 and 22, Rajnath Singh also invited his Egyptian counterpart to the India-Africa Defence Dialogue and Indian Ocean Region Defence Ministers’ Conclave.