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Russian Prime Minister to visit Egypt to attend opening ceremony of new Suez Canal

August 06, 2015, 1:03 UTC+3 MOSCOW

"During the visit, Medvedev is expected to discuss key issues of bilateral relations," the press service said

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Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev

Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev

© Anton Novoderezhkin/TASS

MOSCOW, August 6. /TASS/. Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev will pay a working visit to Egypt on Thursday to attend an official ceremony of commissioning the new Suez Canal, the press service of the Russian government said. The visit will take place at the invitation of Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi.

The press service did not specify Medvedev’s meetings in Egypt but, according to reports, the ceremony of opening the new canal will bring together the leaders of a number of states. Thus, Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras said he wanted to see his Russian counterpart.

"Egypt is one of Russia’s leading partners in the Arab world," the government’s press service said. ""ur countries are tired by traditional relations of friendship and comprehensive cooperation based on principles of respect to sovereignty and non-interference into each other’s domestic affairs, due account of mutual interests, and the common visions of the basics of the present-day world order."

"During the visit, Medvedev is expected to discuss key issues of bilateral relations," the press service said.

In 2014, trade between Russia and Egypt neared 5.5 billion US dollars, or by 80% up on 2013. Moscow however believes that the two countries have considerable potential to increase bilateral trade. "One of the key areas of cooperation is the energy sector, including the oil and gas industry and participation of Russia’s leading companies in prospecting and production projects," the press service said. "The forthcoming visit is geared to give a fresh impetus to the development of such cooperation."

Moscow supports Egypt’s efforts in countering international terrorism and is ready to help that country strengthen its armed forces and law enforcement agencies.

The year 2014 saw a record-breaking number of Russian vacationers visiting Egypt - three million people, which was by about 35% more than in 2013. "Taking this into consideration, of special importance are the two countries’ efforts to ensure proper sojourn conditions and due security for Russian tourists," the press service said.

Ahead of his visit to Egypt, Medvedev said in an interview with the Al-Ahram newspaper said that the construction of the new channel of the Suez Canal is a "grand national project for Egypt and a significant event for the world's shipping industry." He noted that this path had been known since the ancient times and was still important for international trade. "It links oceans and continents making the distance between countries shorter. I would call it one of the symbols of the modern global world."

The Russian prime minister said that Russian companies were ready to take part in economic projects in Egypt. In his opinion, the creation of the Russian industrial zone in the area the Suez Canal can become one of the first steps in that process. "The topic is now being intensively discussed on the ministerial level. They are working on the concept of the project taking into account the market needs of Egypt and other Middle Eastern and African countries. In December, it is planned to hold the next meeting of the bilateral intergovernmental commission," Medvedev said. "I think by that time we will have a clear picture of the entire project in detail. We hope to sign a bilateral Memorandum of Understanding and the" road map" to implement it."

According to the Prime Minister, potential residents include car companies, manufacturers of construction materials, river and sea transport vessels, energy equipment, pharmaceutical products.

The construction of the new 72-km (45-mile) Suez Canal was completed in mid-July and cost Egypt $8 billion. The second Suez Canal will double the Canal’s capacity from 49 to 97 vessels a day as ships will be able to pass in both directions simultaneously, using the old and new waterways. Cairo expects revenues from the operation of the Suez Canal system at least to triple by 2023 to over 15 billion U.S. dollars.

The Suze Canal that opened in 1869 keeps the positions of the world’s most important water artery. This is the shortest sea way from Europe to Asia and the cheapest method of cargo transportation.

Russia, Egypt preparing contracts in aviation, armor supplies and GLONASS - PM Medvedev

Russia and Egypt are working on promising contracts in aviation, armor supplies and the GLONASS satellite-based navigational system, Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev said in an interview with the Egyptian newspaper Al-Ahram.

"For understandable reasons, I won’t disclose details but I can only say that work is proceeding on several promising contracts, including on possible deliveries of aircraft, helicopters and the armor and warships," Medvedev said.

"The Egyptian partners’ connection to the GLONASS system is another important area," Medvedev said.

Military and technical cooperation is important for both countries, the Russian premier said.

"But I want to stress at once: it is not aimed against third countries. First of all, it deals with strengthening Egypt’s defense capability, including its potential to counter the threat of terrorism, and therefore ensuring stability and security in the entire region," the Russian premier said.

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