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Russia, Egypt defense ministers discuss boost to military ties, Syria

October 19, 2015, 20:44 UTC+3 MOSCOW
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MOSCOW, October 19./TASS/. Russian Defense Minister Sergey Shoigu and his Egyptian counterpart Sedki Sobhi had a telephone conversation on Monday to discuss ways to give a boost to military-technical cooperation as well as the situation in Syria, the Russian Defense Ministry reported.

"The Russian side confirmed readiness to build up cooperation towards enhancing the potential of Egyptian armed forces, expanding programs for the training of Egyptian military specialists at higher education establishments of the Russian Defense Ministry," the ministry’s press service and information department said.

Shoigu and Egypt’s military chief and defense minister also discussed "the situation in crisis regions, including the situation in Syria," it said.

Russia is planning to supply equipment and helicopters for the Mistral amphibious assault ships that Egypt is buying from France, and the value of the deal may exceed $1 billion, Sergei Ivanov, the Russian president’s chief of staff, told journalists on Monday.

"Egypt is buying the Mistrals from France. After the deal has been closed, as business people say, I don’t affirm but presume that Egypt will sign a contract with Russia on outfitting the Mistrals - both the ships proper and their helicopters - and thus will make a substantial contribution to fight against international terrorism," the presidential chief of staff said.

At first, the two Mistral-class amphibious assault ships was designed for the Russian Navy, with the €1.12 billion contract to that effect signed by Moscow and Paris in June 2011.

The first ship, named Vladivostok, was made waterborne in October 2013, scheduled for handover to Russia in November 2014.

Sister ship Sevastopol was to be turned over to Russia in the first half of 2015. But Paris took an 11th-hour decision to suspend transition of the carriers under the pretext of events in Ukraine. After a long wait, the two parties announced in August that the contract had been severed.

Moscow has been reimbursed for the cancellation of the contract.

Egypt ordered the helicopter carriers from France on October 10, 2015. The ships are due for delivery to the new customer in summer 2016 along with their assault craft.

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