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Russia, Egypt seek to develop military-technical cooperation

November 15, 2013, 16:12 UTC+3 Alexandrova Lyudmila

MOSCOW, November 15 (Itar-Tass) - Russia and Egypt intend to develop relations, primarily military-technical cooperation, whether the U.S. and Cairo curtail cooperation in this field. Visits to Cairo by Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu of November 13-14 proved this.

On Thursday, the foreign and defence ministers met Egyptian counterparts, Nabil Fahmy and Abdel Fattah el-Sisi within the 2+2 format. The parties discussed global and regional security and prospects for further development of relations between the two countries. Cairo recognises that it seeks to bring relations with Moscow to a level, which existed in the Soviet Union.

El-Sisi is a key figure in a new transition government. It was formed after Islamist President Mohamed Morsi had been overthrown.

It is not incidental that military-technical cooperation was included in the agenda of Russian-Egyptian talks. In October the United States refused to reduce military aid to Cairo by one fourth. Earlier, it reached about $1.4 billion. Washington said it was displeased by the fact that Egypt failed to achieve progress in forming civil authorities. In August the EU took a decision to suspend supplies of weapons and other products to Egypt.

Recently the Egyptian authorities have said they are discussing a possibility to buy weapons in other countries.

Moscow is ready to supply weapons and military hardware on concessional terms. Egyptian mass media report supplies will be made at the amount of about $4 billion.

After Saudi Arabia pledged to make up Egypt’s financial losses Russia initiated aid to supplying new arms and repairing old-dated Soviet-times military hardware.

Local mass media wondered if Moscow managed to reinforce positions in Egypt and press Americans. “We haven’t friends against anyone,” Lavrov said, adding Egypt “is our traditional partner”.

The Russian minister said Moscow and Cairo had common views on key principles of Palestinian-Israeli settlement, the Syrian crisis and the convocation of a conference devoted to making the Middle East a zone free of nuclear weapons.

Talks between Sergei Shoigu and Fattah el-Sisi led to agreeing to conduct joint anti-terrorism and anti-piracy exercises and expand cooperation between the Navies and Air Forces.

Economic issues were in the focus of the talks. The parties decided preparations for convening an intergovernmental commission on trade, economic, scientific and technical cooperation. They also agreed to increase trade turnover in the future.

Cairo urged Rosatom to take part in a tender for building a nuclear power plant with the capacity of 1.65 tonnes MWt and with the price of $3 billion on the Mediterranean coast. Companies from China, the U.S., France, South Korea and Japan seek to take part in the tender.

Lavrov said Russia was ready to continue tourism dialogue with Egypt. “Lifting a state of emergency in Egypt will allow Moscow and Cairo to restore cooperation in tourism at a proper level.” The minister pledged to consider this issue in detail upon his return to Moscow.

The visit to the port of Alexandria by the Varyag cruiser was timed to the Russian-Egyptian talks. The Varyag cruiser was the first Russian ship, which visited Egypt over the past 20 years.

The Egyptian army has enough Soviet- and Russian-made weapons and hardware. According to the Centre for Analysis of Strategies and Technologies, the Egyptian army has 60 percent of air defence systems. Certain models can be modernised and the army’s needs in air defence systems of small- and medium ranges can be satisfied by supplies from Russia.

At present military-technical cooperation between Russia and Egypt has been restricted, quoted head of the Centre for Analysis of Global Weapons Trade Igor Korotchenko as saying earlier. Supplies of spare parts for hardware, bought in the times of President Gamal Abdel Nasser (1954-1970), and purchases of Perchora 2M surface-to-air defence missile systems are one of the major deals. The Egyptian army possesses of several Buk-M1-2 medium-range systems and Top-M1E systems.

Egypt, which is 60-percent equipped with Soviet air defence systems, seeks to purchase air defence systems of medium range (Top-M2 and Buk-M2) and Pantsir-C-1 systems, as well as Russian fighters Mig-29 and Su-30, the Centre of Analysis for Strategies and Technologies said.