Al Sissi begins key visit to Russia

Talks focus on boost of ‘strategic ‘and restart Russian flights to Egyptian holiday spots

Cairo: Egyptian President Abdul Fattah Al Sissi started on Monday a three-day official visit to Russia. The visit comes two weeks before the third anniversary of the crash of a Russian passenger plane in Sinai, which prompted Moscow to suspend all flights to Egypt. In April, Russia resumed flights to Cairo.

The Egyptian leader is due to meet Wednesday Russian President Vladimir Putin, who visited Cairo last December.

Al Sissi is expected to seek Putin’s backing for the restart of Russian flights to Egypt’s holiday resorts, which have been hard hit by Moscow’s suspension of flights in the wake of the October 2015 plane downing claimed by the terrorist Daesh group, Egyptian media reported.

Tourism, a key source of income for Egypt, has suffered from the unrest that followed the 2011 uprising.

“The visit gives a new impetus to constructive and continuing cooperation and boosts the strategic relations between the two countries,” Egyptian presidential spokesman Bassam Radi said Monday.

Al Sissi is due Tuesday to address the Federation Council, the upper house of the Russian parliament.

Russia is a major trade partner to Egypt, with their trade exchange estimated at around 6.5 billion dollars. Russia has signed an agreement with Egypt to build a nuclear power plant in the coastal area of Al Dabaa and another to set up an industrial zone near the Suez Canal.

In an article carried by Egypt’s semi-official newspaper Al Ahram this week, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov called his country’s ties with Cairo a “multi-faceted partnership”.

Egypt, the Arab world’s most populous country, is a traditional ally of the US. The Cairo-Moscow ties have prospered since Al Sissi took office in 2014. He has since met Putin several times.

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