Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Saturday began his maiden state visit to Egypt by holding discussions with his Egyptian counterpart Mostafa Madbouly and top Cabinet ministers on deepening trade relations and further strengthening the strategic partnership.
Modi is visiting Egypt at the invitation of President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi. This is the first bilateral visit by an Indian Prime Minister to Egypt in 26 years.
Modi began his visit with discussions with Egyptian Prime Minister Madbouly and top Cabinet ministers to deepen trade relations and further strengthen the strategic partnership.
The Prime Minister also met the Grand Mufti of Egypt Dr Shawki Ibrahim Abdel-Karim Allam and interacted with the members of the Indian diaspora.
He also met the members of the Indian diaspora and the Bohra community.
The Prime Minister's meeting with the Bohra community members comes ahead of his visit on Sunday to Cairo's historic Al-Hakim Mosque, restored with the help of India's Dawoodi Bohra community.
The Bohra community in India actually originated from the Fatima dynasty and they have renovated the mosque from the 1970s onwards.
This is the first bilateral visit by an Indian Prime Minister to Egypt in 26 years.
Earlier, in a special gesture, Modi was welcomed at the airport here by Egypt's Prime Minister with a warm embrace, accorded a ceremonial welcome and a Guard of Honour. "I am confident this visit will strengthen India's ties with Egypt. I look forward to talks with President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi and attending other programmes," Prime Minister Modi tweeted after landing in Cairo.
Modi's first official engagement was a meeting with the India Unit, a group of high-level ministers constituted by President El-Sisi in March to further enhance the relationship with India.
The two leaders had decided to elevate the relationship to the level of strategic partnership during El-Sisi's visit to India as the chief guest at the Republic Day celebrations this year.
Seven members of the Egyptian Cabinet, led by Madbouly, were present at the meeting with Modi.
At the outset, the Prime Minister thanked Egypt for setting up the dedicated high-level India Unit and appreciated the whole of the government approach.
Discussions focused on deepening cooperation across a range of areas including trade & investment, renewable energy, green hydrogen, IT, digital payment platforms, pharma and people to people ties, External Affairs Ministry spokesman Arindam Bagchi said on Twitter.
Modi will meet Egyptian President El-Sisi on Sunday.
Earlier, the Indian diaspora, dressed up in traditional attire, gathered in large numbers at the Ritz Carlton Hotel here to welcome Modi.
Waving the Indian tricolour, members of the Indian community welcomed the Prime Minister to chants of 'Modi, Modi' and 'Vande Mataram' when he reached the hotel here.
An Egyptian woman, Jena, dressed in a saree, greeted Modi with the popular song 'Yeh Dosti Hum Nahi Chhodenge' from the movie 'Sholay'.
Impressed by the rendition of the Kishore Kumar-Manna Dey number, the Prime Minister expressed surprise when Jena said she knew very little Hindi and had never visited India.
"Kisi ko pata bhi nahi chalega ki aap Misr ki beti ho ya Hindustan ki beti ho (Nobody will be able to tell whether you are a daughter of Egypt or a daughter of India)," Prime Minister Modi said.
He will visit the Heliopolis War Cemetery to pay respects to the Indian troops who gave their lives in the ultimate act of valour for Egypt during World War-1.
This memorial was built by the Commonwealth, although it is dedicated to the 3,799 Indian troops who lost their lives in different First World War conflicts in Egypt.
El-Sisi is also scheduled to travel to India in September for the G-20 Summit where Egypt has been invited as a special guest.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Saturday met prominent personalities in Egypt, including Hassan Allam, CEO of one of the largest Egyptian companies operating in the Middle East and North African region, and Tarek Heggy, a renowned author and petroleum strategist.
PM @narendramodi held a fruitful meeting with Hassan Allam, CEO of Hassan Allam Holding Company, one of the largest Egyptian companies operating in the Middle East & North African region, External Affairs Ministry spokesman Arindam Bagchi said on Twitter.
Possibilities of forging closer cooperation with Indian companies in renewable energy, green hydrogen, infrastructure and construction sectors were discussed, he said.
Bagchi said the Prime Minister's discussion with Heggy covered issues related to global geopolitics, energy security, radicalism and gender equality.
Prime Minister Modi also held a warm conversation with two young prominent Yoga instructors, Reem Jabak and Nada Adel. He praised them for their commitment to Yoga and encouraged them to visit India.
They informed the Prime Minister of great enthusiasm for Yoga in Egypt, Bagchi said.