Egypt to expand Russia cooperation after fall out with U.S.

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Egypt will be expanding cooperation with Russia following a diplomatic fallout with the United States after President Mohammad Mursi’s ouster, Foreign Minister Nabil Fahmy said on Saturday.

Russia’s defense and foreign ministers are expected to visit Cairo to discuss arms sales and political relations, Agence France-Presse reported.

Ties between Washington and strategic ally Cairo have deteriorated since Mursi’s overthrow by the military. On Oct. 9, the United States froze part of its $1.5 billion annual aid pending progress on democracy and human rights, following the crackdown on Mursi supporters which left more than 1,000 people dead.

Fahmy said relations with the United States have improved with Secretary of State John Kerry’s visit last week.

During his visit, the first since Mursi’s overthrow by the military in July, the Secretary of State said the United States is committed to working with the Egyptian government.

He also said he wanted to express to the Egyptian people “as clearly and as forcefully as I can in no uncertain terms, that the United States is a friend of the people of Egypt, of the country of Egypt, and we are a partner.”

But Fahmy said that Egypt is taking a more “independent” approach and broadening its choices.

“Independence is having choices. So the objective of this foreign policy is to provide Egypt with choices, more choices. So I'm not going to substitute. I'm going to add,” he was quoted as saying in an interview with AFP.

“I see this as a beginning of a new phase,” he said.

Kerry’s visit “left better sentiments here in Egypt,” the Egyptian FM said.

“It does not mean everything has been resolved. It does not mean there won’t be hiccups in the relationship in the future,” Fahmy was quoted as saying.

Egypt had close ties with Russia before president Anwar Sadat made peace with Israel in 1979, leading to $1.3 billion in annual U.S. military aid.

(With AFP)