Putin and Sisi pledge to boost Russia-Egypt ties

Presidents discuss creation of free trade zone involving Eurasian Economic Union and also nuclear power plant in Egypt.

Vladimir Putin meets with Abdel Fattah al-Sisi
Putin announced Russia's participation in the construction of a nuclear power plant in Egypt [EPA]

Russian President Vladimir Putin and his Egyptian counterpart Abdel Fattah el-Sisi have pledged to further boost relations between the two countries at talks in Moscow.

Wednesday’s talks’ agenda included economic cooperation, conflicts and the political situation in the Middle East. It was Sisi’s third visit to Moscow.

Inside Story: How stable is Egypt?

At a joint news conference following the negotiations, Putin spoke of possible cooperation between Egypt and the Eurasian Economic Union.

“Among concrete steps to give additional stimulus to the economy is a possible creation of a free trade zone between Egypt and the Eurasian Economic Union,” he said.

The Eurasian Union – which includes Russia, Kazakhstan, Belarus, Armenia and Kyrgyzstan – was created to guarantee free transit of goods, services, capital and workforce and coordinate policy for major economic sectors.

Putin also announced Russia’s participation in the construction of a nuclear power plant in Egypt.

“One of the largest economic projects is the construction in Egypt of a nuclear power plant based on Russian technologies,” he said.

Since Western powers imposed economic sanctions on Russia last year over the Ukraine conflict, Russia has accelerated attempts to build ties with Asia, Africa and South America, as well as warming relations with its former Soviet-era allies.

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Putin has been cultivating ties with Egypt, a Soviet ally for much of the Cold War and traditional export market for Russian arms.

He visited the country in February for talks with Sisi, whom Putin has strongly backed.

“Egyptian exporters successfully use the opportunities offered by our market which have additionally opened after certain restrictive measures have been adopted in response to EU sanctions,” Putin said.

He also announced that Russia plans to increase grain export to Egypt.

Putin was the first leader of a major power to visit Egypt since Sisi, a former army chief, became president in 2014, having toppled President Mohamed Morsi the previous year after mass protests against his rule.

Source: Reuters