Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi paid his first visit in office to Russia, meeting with President Vladimir Putin, agreeing to increase cooperation, and discussing an arms deal that would include advanced weapons that could be used to fight terrorism emanating from Sinai.
The parties discussed the delivery of Russian arms, including “24 Mikoyan MiG- 29 fighter jets, as well as its Kornet anti-tank missile systems, attack helicopters Kamov Ka-25, Mil Mi-28 and Mi-25,” Russia’s RIA Novosti reported on Tuesday.
“We are also actively developing military technical cooperation. In March, we signed a corresponding protocol. We are supplying arms to Egypt and have agreed to expand this cooperation,” the Russian president said in remarks at a press conference after the talks, the Kremlin website reported.
“We fully share Egypt’s active stance in combating international terrorism, especially in conditions of an unprecedented growth of a terrorist threat in the Middle East,” Putin said.
Egypt signed a $2 billion arms deal with Russia, with financial support from Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, a senior official told Al-Masry al-Youm in February.
Moscow is seeking to boost its reach in the Middle East and ties with Egypt as relations between the US and Sisi’s government have been tense since the ousting of president Mohamed Morsi just over a year ago.
Sisi said the two countries agreed to establish a Russian industrial zone as part of the Suez Canal expansion project that is scheduled to be completed in the next year, the Egyptian State Information Service website reported.
In addition, creating a free trade zone was discussed.
“The intergovernmental commission is also working successfully: an important agreement was reached to establish cooperation between Egypt and the Customs Union of Russia, Belarus and Kazakhstan. We are now considering the possibility of setting up free trade zones,” Putin said.
Putin said his country sells Egypt around 40 percent of the grain it consumes and that agricultural products make up 90 percent of its imports from the Arab country.
The two leaders also discussed the possibility of setting up an Egyptian logistics center on the Black Sea.