India has congratulated Egypt on the completion of the New Suez Canal, an $8.5 billion extension of the shipping canal that provides a parallel waterway to facilitate two-way traffic and is poised to boost the country's ailing economy hit by years of unrest.
Indian Shipping, Road Transport and Highways Minister Nitin Gadkari, who represented the country at the ceremony, conveyed the congratulations when he called on Egyptian President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi in Cairo on Wednesday.
He also extended an invite to Sisi for the Third India-Africa Forum Summit being held in October in New Delhi.
On Thursday, President Sisi inaugurated the $8.5 billion expansion of the Suez Canal at an elaborate ceremony in the canal city of Ismailia.
French President Francois Hollande, Jordan's King Abdullah, Bahrain's King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, Kuwait's Emir Sheik Sabah Al Ahmed Al Sabah and Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras attended, as well as Yemen's exiled President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi and Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir.
Egypt has said the New Suez Canal will more than double the canal's annual revenue to $13.2 billion by 2022 as the expansion will lower waiting times for ships, and the new canal and an industrial zone to be developed around it will boost economic development.
The project involved extending a waterway parallel to part of the 19th-century canal connecting the Mediterranean to the Red Sea, as well as deepening and widening the old channel - the shortest shipping route between Europe and Asia.
During the meeting in Cairo, Sisi extended a warm welcome to Gadkari and underlined the importance his government attached to the time-tested Indo-Egyptian relations.
Gadkari described the New Suez Canal as a great achievement which would further promote economic development of Egypt and the region.
He also told Sisi that Modi was personally very keen to meet him and the 3rd India-Africa Forum Summit would be an occasion not only for expanding regional cooperation but also for taking India-Egypt bilateral partnership to a new high.
Sisi recalled the long history of close Indo-Egyptian relations and said that he was very impressed by recent economic developments in India which he said could be a model for other developing countries like Egypt. He hoped that there would be further closer cooperation between the two countries in various areas and reiterated his commitment to further strengthening bilateral relations.