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Context: The first ever joint exercise between the special forces of the Indian Army and the Egyptian Army named “Exercise Cyclone-I” is in progress at Jaisalmer in Rajasthan.
- The exercise aims to bolster defence co-operation between the two nations and focus on sharing professional skills and interoperability of Special Forces in desert terrain while undertaking counter terrorism, reconnaissance, raids and other special operations.
- Exercise “Cyclone - I” is the first exercise of its kind bringing the special forces of both the nations on a common platform.
- The joint exercise would provide an insight into the culture and ethos of both armies thereby fostering military cooperation and interoperability to further strengthen the diplomatic relations between India and Egypt.
- India and Egypt, two of the world’s oldest civilizations, have enjoyed a history of close contact from ancient times.
- Ashoka’s edicts refer to his relations with Egypt under Ptolemy-II.
- In modern times, Mahatma Gandhi and Saad Zaghloul shared common goals on the independence of their countries, a relationship that was to blossom into an exceptionally close friendship between President Nasser and Prime Minister Nehru, leading to a Friendship Treaty between the two countries in 1955.
- India and Egypt share close political understanding based on long history of contacts and cooperation in bilateral, regional and global issues.
- The joint announcement of establishment of diplomatic relations at Ambassadorial level was made on 18 August 1947.
- Both countries have cooperated closely in multilateral fora and were the founding members of Non-Aligned Movement.
- The year 2022 is of particular significance since it marks the 75th anniversary of diplomatic relation between India and Egypt.
Bilateral mechanisms: There are several mechanisms of bilateral institutional dialogue at different levels.
- The India-Egypt Bilateral Trade Agreement has been in operation since March 1978 and is based on the Most Favoured Nation clause and the bilateral trade has increased more than five times in last ten years.
- The bilateral trade in 2018-19 reached US$ 4.55 billion.
- Despite Pandemic, the volume of trade declined only marginally to US $ 4.5 billion in 2019-20 and to US $ 4.15 billion in 2020-21 (Egypt’s exports to India were valued at US$ 1.89 billion and imports from India at US$ 2.26 billion with India having a favorable trade balance of US$ 372 million.)
- Bilateral trade has expanded rapidly in 2021-22, amounting to 26 billion registering a 75% increase compared to FY 2020-21.
- India’s exports to Egypt during this period amounted to US$ 3.74 billion, registering a 65% increase over the same period in FY 2020-21. At the same time, Egypt’s exports to India reached US$ 3.52 billion registering an 86% increase.
- The grants-in-aid projects include: Pan Africa Tele-medicine and Tele-education project in Alexandria University, Solar electrification project in Agaween village and Vocational Training Centre for textile technology in Shoubra, Cairo, which have been completed.
- Technical cooperation and assistance have been a major part of our bilateral relationship. Since 2000, over 1250 Egyptian officials have benefited from ITEC and other programs like ICCR and IAFS scholarships.
- In the field of scientific cooperation, ICAR and the Agricultural Research Center of Egypt are working in the field of agricultural research.
- ‘Science & Technology’ cooperation is implemented through biennial Executive Programmes and Scientific Cooperation Programme between CSIR (India) and NRC (Egypt).
- Space cooperation is an emerging vertical of cooperation between India and Egypt. Joint Working Group meetings and discussions between ISRO and NARSS (National Authority for Remote Sensing and Space Sciences) have been held, since an MoU was signed in
- There was close cooperation between the Air Forces, with efforts at jointly developing a fighter aircraft in 1960s.
- IAF pilots had also trained Egyptian pilots from 1960s until 1984.
- Most of the current defence cooperation is determined by Joint Defence Committee (JDC) activities.
- Egypt participated in the Multinational Training Exercise for friendly African countries held at Pune in 2019. The first ever IAF-EAF Joint Tactical Air Exercise, Dessert Warrior, was held in 2021.
- The first ever Special Forces exercise “Cyclone 1” between India and Egypt planned in Jodhpur from 8th – 22nd January 2022 stands postponed.
- The Maulana Azad Centre for Indian Culture (MACIC) has been promoting cultural cooperation between the two countries, through regular activities such as Hindi, Urdu and Yoga classes; seminars; film shows; exhibitions and participation in local cultural activities.
- ‘Sawt-ul-Hind’, Embassy’s flagship Arabic magazine for the past six decades, reached a milestone in July 2017 with the publishing of its 500thedition, depicting the strong bond and vibrant cultural exchanges between the two countries.
Indian Community: At present, the Indian community in Egypt numbers at around 3200, most of whom are concentrated in Cairo.