Egypt army: Delegation sent to Israel for security, not military, coordination

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March 24, 2014 00:19

Cairo exploring entering a Russian-led free trade zone that would include Belarus and Kazakhstan.

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egypt army

Egyptian army tank positioned outside Cairo's Tora prison.. (photo credit:REUTERS)

The Egyptian military’s spokesman acknowledged on Saturday it sent a delegation recently to Israel to discuss securing the common border and security coordination.

The meeting was part of tri-annual meetings that have taken place since 1982.

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The army denied, however, that military cooperation was discussed.

Meanwhile, Interior Minister Muhammad Ibrahim said on Sunday that Egypt was facing an arms shortage and for that reason was considering purchasing Russian weapons.

“There is a problem because there has been a stifling of arms imports from the United States and the European Union,” Ibrahim said, according to Ahram Online.

At the same time, the Egyptian Foreign Trade and Industry Ministry announced it is exploring the possibility of entering a Russian-led customs union/free trade zone that would include Belarus and Kazakhstan, Daily News Egypt reported.

A report last week in the Kuwaiti newspaper Al-Rai quoted senior Egyptian sources as saying that army chief Field Marshal Abdel Fattah al-Sisi has recently intensified contacts with the Russian Defense Ministry to expedite an arms deal.

The agreement with Moscow is to include advanced aircraft, monitoring equipment and other sophisticated weapons that would be used to fight terrorism emanating from Sinai.

The urgent move to close the deal comes after a report on Tuesday that the White House was delaying the delivery of arms that include 10 Apache helicopters. An Egyptian military source told the London-based pan-Arab daily Asharq al-Awsat that the arms deal was intended to help put down the Islamist insurgency in Sinai.

The delay continues a US partial aid and weapons freeze that has largely been seen as punishment for Sisi’s military coup last July and crackdown on former president Mohamed Morsi and his supporters.

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