Egypt's interim President Mansour with Russia’s FM Lavrov..
(photo credit: REUTERS)
A 19-member Russian military delegation arrived in Cairo on Wednesday for a visit that is to last several days, signifying the warming ties between the two countries.
This is the third visit in less than two months. The delegation is set to meet with Egyptian military officials, according to an airport security source quoted by Egyptian newspaper Al-Masry Al-Youm.
Meanwhile, European foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton arrived in Egypt on Wednesday for a two-day visit to discuss the upcoming presidential elections with senior officials, Ahram Online reported.
Ashton plans to hold talks with presidential candidates, among them the expected victor, former Egyptian army chief Field Marshal Abdel Fattah al-Sisi.
Sisi has recently intensified contact with the Russian Defense Ministry in order to expedite the completion of an arms deal, according to senior Egyptian sources that the Kuwaiti newspaper Al-Rai quoted in a report last month.
The deal with Russia includes 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 for needed weapons comes after another report last month that the White House was delaying the delivery of an arms deal that included 10 Apache helicopters.
An Egyptian military source told the London-based Arab daily Asharq Alawsa
t that the arms deal was intended to help put down the Islamist insurgency in Sinai.
Egypt completed 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
Egypt’s moves to improve relations with Russia are seen as a way to counter the threat of US pressure. The US partial aid and weapons freeze was largely seen to be a punishment for the military coup and crackdown on former president Mohamed Morsi and his supporters.