Chief of Army Staff Gen Manoj Pande on Monday left for a visit to Egypt to hold wide-ranging talks with the top military brass of the Arab country on enhancing bilateral defence relations. The Army said Gen Pande will interact with the Commander-in-Chief of Egyptian armed forces, defence minister and the Chief of Staff of the Egyptian armed forces.

India is keen to expand strategic ties with Egypt, a key player in the politics of both the Arab world as well as Africa. It is also seen as a major gateway to markets in Africa and Europe.

“Gen Manoj Pande, the Chief of the Army Staff (COAS) has proceeded on a visit to Egypt from May 16 to 17. During the visit, the Army Chief will be meeting the country’s senior military leadership where he will discuss avenues for further enhancing Indo-Egypt defence relations,” the Army said.

It said the Army chief will also be visiting various establishments of the Egyptian armed forces and exchange ideas on issues of mutual interest.

The military relations between India and Egypt are on an upswing and it was evident during the 74th Republic Day parade, wherein the Egyptian Armed Forces contingent made their first appearance.

Egyptian President Abdeh Fattah El-Sisi was the Chief Guest at this year’s Republic Day parade.

Notably, Indian and Egyptian Armies conducted the first ever joint exercise in January this year.

“The visit of the COAS will further deepen the bilateral relationships between the two Armies and act as a catalyst for closer coordination and cooperation between the two countries on a host of strategic issues,” the Army said.

Egypt has already shown interest in procuring Tejas light combat aircraft, radars, military helicopters and other platforms from India.

The Egyptian side conveyed its keenness on acquiring the Indian platforms during delegation-level talks between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and El-Sisi during the Egyptian leader’s visit to New Delhi in January.

In July last year, the IAF participated in a month-long tactical leadership programme in Egypt with three Su-30 MKI jets and two C-17 transport aircraft.

In September, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh paid a three-day visit to Egypt.