New Delhi, Jan 25 (PTI) Egypt on Wednesday reaffirmed its interests in procuring the Tejas light combat aircraft, radars, military helicopters and other platforms from India, with both sides vowing to ramp up the overall defence engagement in the face of the evolving regional security matrix.
The Egyptian side conveyed its keenness on acquiring the Indian platforms during delegation-level talks between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Egypt's President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi, people familiar with the matter said.
The 68-year-old influential Arab leader arrived here on a three-day visit on Tuesday. He will grace the Republic Day celebrations as the chief guest on Thursday.
Egypt has already held preliminary talks with India on the procurement of Tejas, the people said.
It is learnt that the Egyptian side is also looking at procuring Akash missiles and smart anti-airfield systems from India.
The United States, Australia, Indonesia, Malaysia, Argentina and the Philippines are also among the countries that have shown interest in India's Tejas aircraft.
In their talks, Modi and Sisi decided to elevate the India-Egypt bilateral cooperation to the level of a strategic partnership.
"One of the key highlights of today's interaction between the two leaders is the elevation of the bilateral relationship to a strategic partnership, comprising four key pillars -- political and security cooperation, the whole segment of economic engagement, scientific and academic collaboration and wider cultural and people-to-people contacts," Foreign Secretary Vinay Kwatra said.
He said the two sides also resolved to expand defence cooperation in the areas of training, exercises, industrial partnership and in the fields of platforms and equipment.
The overall defence ties between the two sides have been on an upswing in the last few years.
In July last year, the Indian Air Force (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 the African country.
India is keen to expand its 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 the markets in Africa and Europe. PTI MPB RC