Egyptian armed forces chief Gen. Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi met with Russian defence minister Sergei Shoygu on Thursday to discuss military cooperation between the two nations, state news agency MENA reported.
The two men first met for half an hour behind closed doors, before being joined by Egyptian and Russian military officials for a three-hour meeting, according to Al-Ahram Arabic news website.
"We are welcoming you as dear friends", El-Sisi told his guests at the beginning of the meeting. "You used to, and still do, occupy a special position of appreciation," he added.
El-Sisi also said military cooperation between the two countries was entering a new stage, according to MENA.
Russian foreign ministry spokesman Alexander Lukashevich said last week the talks would touch on "military and technical cooperation" -- a Russian euphemism for arms sales -- as well as political and economic ties, AFP reported. Lukashevich touted the talks as the first at such a high level "in the history of our friendly relations."
The meeting on Thursday was attended by army chief of staff Gen. Sedki Sobhi, defense minister aide in charge of armament affairs, Major Gen. Mohamed El-Assar, and defence ministerial aide in charge of legal affairs Major Gen. Mamdouh Shahine.
Russian attendees included Andrey Boytsov, first deputy director of the federal service on military-technical cooperation, and representatives of the Russian armament company, Rosoboronexport.
Shoygu praised the Egyptian army for implementing the will of the people, in what appeared to be a reference to the ouster of president Morsi in July, according to MENA.
Sources speaking on condition of anonymity told Al-Ahram that the meeting aimed at drawing the outlines of Russian-Egyptian military cooperation, and not discussing details concerning possible arm deals between the two countries.
According to the sources, Egypt's military officials told the Russian delegation they wanted Russia to help Egypt develop its own local armament production, and rejected the idea that the cooperation between the two countries be limited to arm sales. They also stressed that Egypt wanted to broaden its diplomatic relations on the international scene, and not replace any of its partners.
The Russian visit comes as Egypt's relationship with the United States, one of Cairo's main strategic allies for decades, has soured following the ouster of Islamist president Mohamed Morsi by the military. Morsi's removal came after mass protests calling on him to step down.
Relations between Cairo and Moscow were close during the presidency of Gamal Abdel-Nasser in the 1950s and 1960s.
In 1972, president Anwar Sadat changed direction, throwing out thousands of Soviet military advisers and building a close alliance with United States soon after the 1973 war with Israel.