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Russia And Egypt In Key Cairo Talks

by 14/11/2013 18:23:00 0 comments 613 Views
Russia And Egypt In Key Cairo Talks
Russia and Egypt

Top Russian and Egyptian ministers are holding talks in the Egyptian capital Cairo that will reportedly include possible arms deals that could be worth as much as $2bn (£1.2bn).

It is the highest level visit to Egypt by a Russian delegation in years.

It follows the US decision to cut defence aid to Egypt in response to the ousting of President Mohammed Morsi.

But Egypt's Foreign Minister, Nabil Fahmy, insisted that he was not looking for a "substitute for anyone".

The BBC's Orla Guerin in Cairo says this visit could mark a significant shift in Egyptian foreign policy.

Relations between Cairo and Moscow cooled decades ago, but they are now warming up, she says.

The flagship of Russia's Pacific Naval Fleet, the cruiser Varyag, is on a six-day visit to Alexandria - the first Russian warship to visit Egypt since 1992.

The Egyptian Al-Wafd newspaper described the meeting between Egyptian and Russian officials as "historic".

Both foreign and defence ministers are involved in the talks.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov told Egypt's Al-Ahram newspaper on Wednesday that for more than two years Russia had expressed its support for democratic change in Egypt.

"We are quite confident that Egypt will overcome its current crises and put into consideration the interests of all political, ethnic and religious blocs within society," he said.

Earlier this week, Nabil Fahmy told Russia's state-owned RT television that deliveries of Russian arms were being considered, Russian news agency Ria Novosti reported.

"The issue of purchasing new Russian weapons should be carefully examined," he said.

Russian officials say the talks here are touching on military and technical co-operation - which usually means arms sales, our correspondent says.

In October, the US said it was suspending a large part of the $1.3bn (£810m) in aid it gives to the Egyptian military.

It followed a crackdown by the authorities on supporters of ousted President Morsi that left hundreds of people dead.

However, the US - Egypt's main backer since the 1970s - has stopped short of labelling President Morsi's removal from power a coup, as doing so would trigger the legal requirement to cut off aid.

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