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Russia's Putin to visit Egypt early next year

The visit is planned to take place early next year according to Russian media

Lobna Monieb, Friday 21 Nov 2014
Sisi Putin
Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sissi and his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin attend a welcoming ceremony onboard guided missile cruiser Moskva at the Black Sea port of Sochi, August 12, 2014. (Photo: Reuters)
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Preparations for a visit by Russian President Vladimir Putin to Egypt in the new year are currently ongoing, according to reports by Russian media.

Russia Today said that Russian deputy foreign minister, Michael Bogdanov, had announced Thursday that the visit would take place early next year.

Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi has visited Moscow twice. On his second trip to Moscow in August he invited his Russian counterpart to visit Egypt.

Sergey Vershinin, the Russian foreign minister's special envoy, described Putin's planned visit to Egypt in statements to the Middle East News Agency (MENA) earlier this month as "historic".

Vershinin gave the statements after a meeting with Egyptian foreign minister Sameh Shoukri, where the former confirmed his country's commitment to supporting Egypt in various fields.

Egypt had strong ties with Russia in the 1950s and 1960s, and the Soviet Union was the main supplier of arms to Egypt until the early 1970s. Relations soured after Israel and Egypt signed a peace treaty bringing in some $1.3 billion in annual US military aid to Cairo in 1979.

However, US froze its aid to Egypt in October 2013 stating democracy concerns following president Mohamed Morsi's ouster.

There have been negotiations regarding the issue over the past months. In April, the US announced it would lift the hold on the helicopters' delivery to Egypt and in October Egyptian and US officials announced that the shipment was loaded and expected to arrive in November.

Meanwhile, Egypt's President Abd El-Fattah El-Sisi visited Moscow twice over the past year amid the strained US relations.

He first went as a defence minister and army chief in February where he reportedly negotiated an arms deal with Putin.

In August, El-Sisi visited Moscow again as president and both leaders announced their plans for enhancing bilateral cooperation in the fields of trade, economy, investment and energy.

According to Mustafa El-Labbad, director of the Al-Sharq Center for Regional and Strategic Studies, Egyptian-Russian relations are improving.

"Russia is looking for new allies in the region, given the situation in Syria and the imminent solution to Iran's nuclear problem," he told Ahram Online.

He described the improving relations between the two countries as a "mutual interest".

During El-Sisi's two-day visit to Moscow in August, the two heads of state discussed the situation in the Arab world, particularly Syria, Libya and Iraq. They also held extensive talks about Russia's military support for Egypt, according to press statements by the Russian ambassador to Cairo Serge V. Kirpichenko.  

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