Egyptian President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi has conferred the country’s highest state honour — “Order of the Nile” — on Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi during his maiden visit to Cairo.
“It is with great humility that I accept the ‘Order of the Nile.’ I thank the Government and people of Egypt for this honour. It indicates the warmth and affection they have towards India and the people of our nation,” the Indian premier wrote on his official Twitter handle on Sunday.
The ‘Order of the Nile,’ a pure gold collar consisting of three-square gold units comprising Pharaonic symbols, is conferred upon heads of states, crown princes, and vice-presidents who offer Egypt or humanity invaluable services, according to The Hindu.
Modi met Fattah al-Sisi in Cairo during which both sides pledged to deepen their strategic partnership and agreed to boost investment by India, the world´s most populous nation, in Egypt, which has the Arab world´s largest population, of 105 million, and which is now in the grips of an economic downturn.
Modi, in power since 2014, was on his first visit to the north African country and US ally following a four-day trip to the United States where he met President Joe Biden.
Modi and Sisi “signed a joint declaration to elevate relations to a strategic partnership,” which they had first announced in January when Sisi visited New Delhi, a spokesperson for the Egyptian leader said.
India and Egypt have pledged to boost bilateral trade by billions of dollars as India is also stepping up investment in Egypt, particularly in renewable energy.
Egypt has suffered a drawn-out economic crisis in which the currency has lost half its value in a year.
The government has in recent months moved to diversify foreign investors, which also include Gulf powers and China.
The two leaders affirmed their “mutual commitment” to strengthen relations which include “increasing high-level visits”, facilitating direct flights between the capitals, and “developing Indian investments in Egypt,” according to the presidency in Cairo.
India is already Egypt´s seventh-largest trading partner, according to data from Cairo´s central bank, with trade reaching $7 billion last year.
The two leaders agreed in January to increase Indian investments in Egypt, which currently stand at over $3.15 billion, including through a potential “dedicated land area for Indian industries in the Suez Canal Economic Zone”.
Those projects include a $12 billion green hydrogen plant to be built by Indian firm ACME.
In 2022, as Russia´s Ukraine invasion drove up global grain prices, India banned wheat exports to protect its reserves and rein in inflation, but granted an exception to Egypt, the world´s biggest wheat importer.
Modi invited Sisi to a G20 summit India is hosting in September.
— With additional input from AFP