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After tension with U.S., Egypt looks to revive ties with Russia

Published: Updated:

Following recent tensions between Egypt and the United States over Washington’s position on the overthrow of Mohammad Mursi, Cairo appeared eager to revive ties with an old ally: Russia.

On Thursday, an Egyptian public diplomacy delegation led by Ahmed Abdullah, the Red Sea’s governor, began a series of meetings with the Russian officials in Moscow, Al Arabiya television reported.

Abdullah met with Russian Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Mikhail Bogdanov and Deputy of International Affairs in the Russian Parliament Alexander Rakhmanovic.

Mohamed Salmawi, head of the writers’ federation and official spokesman of the 50-member constitutional panel, said during a press conference that the visit to Moscow was to display Egypt’s recognition of the “positive” Russian response to the June 30 uprising that led to Mursi’s overthrow.

“The reason behind this visit is to show our gratitude for the cautious and objective positioning of Russia. Besides, we also found that it is our duty to keep Russia informed of the current situation in Egypt … because, Egypt is rebuilding itself at the moment ... Egypt is trying to create a democratic society,” Salmawi said.

Meanwhile, Raouf Saad, Egypt’s former ambassador to Russia, told Al Arabiya that the reason behind the visit was “to reinforce” Egyptian-Russian relations.

“The objective of this visit is to reinforce old relations between us and the Russian population. These historical relations prove that there is a friendship that lasted for over 70 years.”

The 12-member Egyptian delegation also included Samih Ashour, head of the lawyers’ union, Tharwat Kharbawi, an Islamist intellectual and Hussam Fouda, a rights activist.

Tensions with Washington worsened when the administration of U.S. President Barack Obama decided on Oct. 10 to freeze the delivery of major arms and cash assistance to the Egyptian government.

The Egyptian government responded saying it was “surprised by the issuance of this decision at this critical time when Egypt is fighting terrorism.”

Mostafa Hegazy, Egyptian presidential advisor, told London-based told Asharq al-Awsat after the U.S. decision that Cairo would seek “more balanced” international relations.

Meanwhile, Abdul Ghaffar Shukur, head of the People’s Alliance Party, told As-Safir newspaper that “the Egyptian administration must face the pressure with counter pressure.”

“Egypt has a lot of cards that it can use to pressure the United States, including, for example, canceling the Camp David Accords,” Shukur added.