In an interview with Al-Ahram daily newspaper on Sunday, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said the Russian government is keen on the resumption of direct flights between Russia and Egyptian resort cities soon.
"In the past years, there was intensive, joint work by specialists to achieve this. I expect direct flights from Russia to Hurghada and Sharm El-Sheikh will be resumed soon,” Lavrov said.
Direct flights between Russia and Egypt were halted following the 2015 Russian plane crash.
Flights between Cairo and Moscow were resumed in April 2018 but direct flights to Sharm El-Sheikh and Hurghada are still suspended.
Lavrov is set to arrive in Cairo on Monday for talks with his Egyptian counterpart Sameh Shoukry.
The duo are expected to discuss international and regional issues as well as bilateral cooperation.
In the interview with Al-Ahram, Lavrov said the date of the next “2+2” meeting between the ministers of foreign affairs and defence of both countries will be determined soon.
Lavrov reaffirmed that Egypt is one of the main partners to Russia in the Middle East and Africa.
The top Russian diplomat reiterated that there are promising horizons for strategic cooperation between Cairo and Moscow, particularly in the field of tourism.
He pointed out that ties between Cairo and Moscow is based on the agreement of comprehensive partnership and strategic cooperation, which was signed by Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi and his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin in 2018 and has come into effect in January 2021
On the economic and commercial cooperation between Egypt and Russia, Lavrov said the commercial balance between the two countries declined from $6.24 billion in 2019 to $4.54 billion in 2020 due to the coronavirus pandemic.
“Nevertheless, the implementation of joint mega projects continued, such as the construction of the Dabaa nuclear plant and the establishment of a Russian industrial area in the Suez Economic Zone in addition to supplying Egypt with train passenger cars,” he said.
Lavrov stated that Egypt’s approval and registration for Russia’s coronavirus vaccine Sputnik V in February created the appropriate conditions between the two countries for the potential supply of the vaccine to Egypt.
Asked about his recent tour in the Gulf, Lavrov stressed that his visits to several Arab countries did not carry a hidden agenda and that they were part of Russia’s dialogue with the rest of the world.
He added that his Emirati, Qatari, and Saudi counterparts visited Moscow in December 2020 and January 2021.
The Russian foreign minister said that he discussed the latest MidEast developments and bilateral relations with his Gulf counterparts.
Concerning the situation in Yemen, Lavrov welcomed the agreement brokered by Saudi Arabia in December 2020 between the Yemeni president and the Southern Transitional Council to form a unity government as well as the ceasefire agreements proposed afterwards, calling upon the warring parties to adopt a political solution.
He also revealed that the situation in Syria and its return to the Arab League after the suspension of its membership in 2011 were discussed with the Gulf ministers of foreign affairs.
“During the latest talks in the UAE and Saudi Arabia, we and our colleagues asserted our commitment to Syria's sovereignty, its national unity, and the Syrians' right to determine their destiny in accordance with the UN Security Council Resolution 2254 and the Syrian National Dialogue,” Lavrov said, adding that the UAE and Saudi Arabia are “positively” looking at the return of Syria to the Arab League.
“The sooner the better. The move will follow the establishment of an appropriate understanding between Syrians concerning a full political settlement,” he added.