Russian President Vladimir Putin has thrown his weight behind a presidential bid by Egyptian Army chief Field Marshal Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, although he has yet to formally declare his intentions.
Putin voiced his support during a meeting in Moscow saying he hoped that ties would strengthen after the election.
“I know that you have taken a decision to run for presidency. It’s a very responsible decision. I wish you luck, both from myself personally and from the Russian people,” Putin said.
Sisi, 59, has been urged to run by members of the public who reject the Islamist government he toppled, and by members of the armed forces who want a president who can face down growing political violence.
Earlier this month, a Kuwaiti newspaper quoted him as saying he would run in an election expected to be held in April.
“I would like to express gratitude to your country, first of all for economical help. Our joint cooperation is very important and effective. It allows us to discuss many priority issues, security and military included,” Sisi told Putin.
Talks between the two countries are being widely seen as part of Egypt’s shift to reduce reliance on the United States.
Critics say Russia is looking to take advantage of strains between Cairo and Washington, which has withheld some of its annual aid to Egypt after Sisi last year ousted Islamist leader, Mohamed Mursi, the country’s first democratically elected president.