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Defence Minister Rajnath Singh embarks on 3-day visit to Egypt

NEW DELHI (PTI): India and Egypt will ink an agreement to expand defence and security cooperation during Defence Minister Rajnath Singh's three-day visit to the Arab country which began Sunday.

The Defence Ministry said Singh's visit is aimed at further consolidating defence cooperation and the "special friendship" between India and Egypt.

Singh's trip to Egypt comes nearly two-and-half months after Chief of Air Staff, Air Chief Marshal VR Chaudhary, visited the country to enhance cooperation between the two air forces.

Egypt has also evinced interest in procurement of India's Tejas light combat aircraft.

In a tweet, Singh said he will be in the Egyptian capital Cairo on September 18 as part of a three-day visit to that country.

"Looking forward to holding discussions with my counterpart, General Mohamed Ahmed Zaki to further strengthen defence cooperation between both the countries," he said.

The Defence Ministry said the two ministers will review the bilateral defence ties, explore new initiatives to intensify military-to-military engagements and focus on deepening cooperation between the defence industries of the two countries.

"An MoU to provide further impetus to enhanced defence cooperation between India and Egypt will also be signed," it said in a statement.

The Ministry said Singh will also call on Egyptian President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi. "The visit by Rajnath Singh aims to further consolidate defence cooperation and the special friendship between India and Egypt," it said.

The defence and security ties between India and Egypt have been on an upswing in the last few years.

The Indian Air Force participated in a month-long tactical leadership programme in Egypt from June 24 with three Su-30MKI jets and two C-17 transport aircraft.

Last month, the Government said in Parliament that Egypt is among six countries which showed interest in India's Tejas aircraft.

Tejas, manufactured by Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd, is a single-engine multi-role fighter aircraft capable of operating in high-threat air environments.

In February last year, the Defence Ministry sealed a Rs 48,000 crore deal with HAL for the procurement of 83 Tejas light combat aircraft for the Indian Air Force (IAF).

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