Sisi, Putin discuss military and economic ties
Russia and Egypt are reportedly near a $3 billion arms deal that would be financed by Saudi Arabia and the UAE
Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi discussed Tuesday with Russian President Vladimir Putin the creation of a Russian industrial hub in Egypt as part of the latest Suez Canal development project.
The visit is also meant to address Cairo's purchase of advanced surface-to-air missiles and membership in a Moscow-led free trade zone, Agence France-Presse reported.
All the people of Egypt are closely watching my visit and expecting a high level of cooperation between our states," Russian state news agencies quoted Sisi as telling Putin.
"I expect us to meet their expectations."
Sisi also thanked Putin for being the first leader to invite him for a visit outside the Arab world since his swearing in as head of state.
Rekindling military ties
Russia has jumped at the chance to grab a bigger share of the Egyptian arms market after the United States suspended some of its weapons deliveries last year in the wake of Sisi’s crackdown on the former Islamist government.
Cairo hosted the Russian defense and foreign ministers in November, the first visit of this nature since the Soviet era, for discussions on an Egyptian arms purchase plan.
Moscow's Vedemosti business daily reported in the wake of Sisi’s visit to Moscow that Russia and Egypt were nearing a $3-billion weapons agreement that would be financed by Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.
The report said Moscow and Cairo had already either "initialed or signed" contracts for the purchase of Mig-29 fighters and Russian attack helicopters as well as coastal defense systems.
“Egypt is most interested in air defense systems,” said Moscow’s World Arms Trade Analysis Centre chief Igor Korotchenko.
“I think that the signing of actual contracts is just a question of time,” the analyst said in a telephone interview. “A political-level agreement has already been reached,” Korotchenko added.
Additionally, Russia will supply more than five million tons of wheat to Egypt this year and will increase agricultural goods imports from the North African country, Putin told reporters after meeting Sisi.
Agricultural imports from Egypt could be doubled to partially compensate for lost supplies following a Russian ban on European food imports, Russian agricultural minister told reporters.
Egypt said it is ready to increase agricultural goods exports to Russia by 30 percent.
The Israeli-Palestinian conflict and the Libyan crisis are also due to be addressed by the leaders.
Earlier this week Sisi was in Saudi Arabia for his first official visit to the kingdom where he met with King Abdullah.
In February, Sisi, the then Egyptian army chief and defense minister, headed to Russia to discuss military cooperation with Putin.
Putin, was one of the first world leaders to congratulate Sisi on his presidential election victory and attended his inauguration ceremony.