Top Russian officials in landmark visit to Egypt

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Russian foreign and defense ministers travelled to Cairo on Wednesday in a landmark two-day visit expected to revive ties between the two countries amid tension between Egypt and the United States.

Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu and Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov will meet with their Egyptian counterparts Defense Minister Abdel Fattah el-Sisi and Foreign Minister Nabil Fahmy.

The high-profile visit comes a month after the United States suspended to the delivery of some large-scale military systems as well as stopping $260 million to Egypt’s military leaders, behind the ouster of former President Mohammad Mursi.

Egypt criticized the U.S. move saying it would begin to pursue a more “balanced” international foreign policy.

“It is not a change that implies substituting one party for another but a change that implies adherence and persistence to having more choices and ensuring multiple options for the Egyptian decision," Foreign Minister Fahmy said.

Following a visit by Fahmy to Moscow last month, a Russian warship, the Varyag missile cruiser, docked this week in the port of Alexandria.

A Russian warship has docked in Egypt’s port of Alexandria in a move that officials said was aimed at bolstering Cairo’s relations with Moscow in a move seen as the beginning of a new era and the Russian-Egyptian relations.

Media reports have suggested that Egypt, whose economy has survived largely on foreign aid, is seeking to purchase $4 billion worth of Russian weapons to substitute the shortfall in U.S. military aide.

Russia’s RIA Novosti quoted a high-ranking official in Russia’s state arms exporter Rosoboronexport saying that new arms deliveries to Egypt would depend on the country’s ability to pay for them.

Egypt maintained close ties with Russia until 1979, when President Anwar Sadat signed a peace treaty with Israel, bringing him closer to the United States.

Because of peace with Israel, the United States gives about $1.3 billion in economic and military aid annually to Egypt.

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