Russia, Egypt Vow to Boost Military Ties

Russia, Egypt Vow to Boost Military Ties
# 14 November 2013 21:20 (UTC +04:00)

Baku-APA. Russia and Egypt agreed Thursday to start drafting documents to lay the foundation for close cooperation in the defense sector, Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu said, APA reports quoting RIA Novosti.

Shoigu and Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov are on a landmark visit to the strategically important North African country to boost bilateral relations, including military ties, which have been in limbo for several decades.

“We agreed today to take steps toward creating a legal basis for our agreements [on military collaboration],” Shoigu said after a meeting with his Egyptian counterpart, Abdel Fattah el-Sisi in Cairo.

According to Shoigu, the sides agreed to set up a working group for drafting a general agreement on all areas of bilateral military cooperation, as well as to hold a series of anti-terrorism and anti-piracy exercises.

Shoigu said earlier in the day that Russia was seriously inclined to developing close military relations with Egypt and intensifying bilateral contacts.

The Soviet Union and Egypt enjoyed close ties during the 1960s and early 1970s, when the Arab country was led by Abdel Nasser. But within years after the death of Nasser, the new president Anwar Sadat started reorienting the country toward the West and expelled about 20,000 Russian military advisers in July 1972.

Bilateral relations have since never warmed up to the previous friendship level.

For Moscow, the renewal of military ties with Egypt could signify a return in force to the Middle East while US diplomacy is failing all over the region.

Rumors about Egypt turning toward Russia for military assistance to meet its security needs, following the partial suspension of military aid and equipment deliveries from the United States, have been circulating in the media since the beginning of November.

The current visit has been preempted by a bout of shuttle diplomacy between Moscow and Cairo with exchanges of unofficial visits and behind-closed-doors discussions in the past few weeks.

Egyptian Foreign Minister Nabil Fahmy confirmed in an interview this week with the Russia’s state-run English-language television channel, RT, that the Egyptian government was considering buying Russian weaponry.