Egypt hails 'new era' of defence alliance with Russia

Egypt hails 'new era' of defence alliance with Russia
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Egypt’s top general has hailed a new era of military cooperation with Russia, during a visit by officials from Moscow.

As the two countries’ foreign ministers met in Cairo both sides described the visit as historic.

No deal has yet been signed, but some analysts believe a major sale of Russian weaponry to Egypt is being concluded.

Last month the US said it was withholding some military and economic aid pending progress on democracy.

Tension between Cairo and Washington has mounted since the army overthrew Islamist President Mohamed Mursi on July 3.

Cairo is playing down speculation of a big shift in foreign policy away from Washington. Foreign Minister Nabil Fahmy said Russia was not meant to be a “substitute” for anyone.

But he admitted that Egypt was looking to “reactivate” an old relationship with Russia.

Egypt and the Soviet Union were close allies until the 1970s, when Cairo moved closer to the United States, which brokered its 1979 peace deal with Israel.

The state news agency quoted General Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, Egypt’s army chief and defence minister, as saying the visit
indicated the continuation of “historic strategic relations via starting a new era of constructive, fruitful cooperation on the military level”.

Speaking from the foreign ministry, euronews correspondent in Cairo Mohammed Shaikhibrahim said: “This historic visit paves the way for the start of a new phase creating a political equation that may restore part of the lost balance here in the Middle East.”

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