Saturday, Sept. 21
Latest News
  1. Palestinian goverment: 26 million in development of ministries
  2. Rudeineh: Washington us unable to achieve anything by itself
  3. US: “No plan for unilateral annexation by Israel of the West Bank"
  4. Cluster of incendiary balloons land in southern Israel
  5. Palestinian FM condemns Germany's vote to define BDS as 'anti-Semitic'
  6. Israeli forces forcibly evict Muslim worshipers from Al-Aqsa
  7. Israeli forces detain 14-year-old Palestinian near Ramallah
  8. Erekat: Deviation from peace terms of reference doomed to fail
  9. Iceland's Hatari shocks Eurovision with Palestinian flags
  10. UNRWA: 4 Palestinian children killed in attack on Syria refugee camp

Russian ministers talk arms sales in landmark Egypt visit

Nov. 14, 2013 7:57 P.M. (Updated: Nov. 14, 2013 7:57 P.M.)
CAIRO (AFP) -- The defense ministers of Russia and Egypt are locked in discussion on military collaboration between their countries, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said Thursday during a landmark visit to Cairo.

Lavrov and Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu are leading a high level Russian delegation on a visit that comes in the wake of a diplomatic spat between Egypt and the United States triggered since the ouster of president Mohamed Morsi.

Shoigu and "his counterpart (General Abdel Fattah al-) Sisi talked on military collaboration" between the two nations, Lavrov said at a Cairo news conference, without elaborating.

Sisi, who is both defense minister and army chief, led a military ouster of Islamist leader Morsi in July, after which he installed an interim government and promised elections.

Lavrov told Thursday's joint news conference with Egyptian counterpart Nabil Fahmy that talks between the two sides had also touched on boosting economic and trade ties.

Fahmy for his part said "bilateral ties between Russia and Egypt are old, in particular in military areas, and this was discussed by the Russian defence minister with his Egyptian counterpart yesterday".

"Russia can't be seen as a replacement to anybody else given its heavy weight in the region".

The talks were conducted as a Russian warship docked at an Egyptian base on the Red Sea, army sources said, adding it was the second such vessel to arrive this week.

The "unofficial" visit was aimed at "strengthening links between the navies of the two countries", they said.

Lavrov declined to be drawn into commenting on political developments in Egypt, where the army-installed government has launched a massive crackdown on Morsi's Muslim Brotherhood movement and put most of its leaders, including Morsi himself, on trial.

"Russia is against any foreign intervention in internal affairs and we respect Egypt's sovereignty and the rights of Egyptian people to determine their future," he said.

Egypt had close ties with Russia until several years before president Anwar Sadat made peace with Israel in 1979, bringing in roughly $1.3 billion in yearly US military aid over the subsequent decades.

Diplomatic ties between Egypt and the United States soured after Washington suspended some of its military aid to Cairo after Morsi's ouster.

Since then Egypt has taken a more "independent" tack and broadened its foreign policy, Fahmy told AFP on Saturday.

No fundamental shift

Analysts said Egypt's strategy to reach out to Russia was a "smart move" but it would not lead to any fundamental change in the near term.

"Egypt's weapons system is entirely US supplied. We must understand that there won't be a fundamental shift in Egypt's military machinery as you can't have Russian arms operating on US weapons systems," said Shadi Hamid, research director at Brookings Doha Center.

"A fundamental shift from US weapons systems to Russian systems will take a long time and there is no indication that this is planned. The US will still remain the prime provider (of arms) to Egypt's military," he told AFP.

In a move that angered Cairo, Washington said in October it was "recalibrating" its aid to Egypt - including about $1.3 billion for military assistance - and suspending the delivery of Apache helicopters, F-16 aircraft, M1A1 Abrams tank parts and Harpoon missiles.

President Barack Obama has led US calls for Egypt to rein in the bloodshed that erupted across the country and mainly in Cairo after Morsi's ouster.

More than 1,000 people have been killed across Egypt in clashes between pro-Morsi supporters and security forces.

Thousands have been arrested, mostly Islamists, including the Brotherhood's top leadership.

US Secretary of State John Kerry attempted to rekindle warmer relations between the two countries during a visit to Egypt this month - his first since Morsi's ouster.

"We are committed to work with and we will continue our cooperation with the interim government," Kerry said in Cairo.

His visit "left better sentiments here in Egypt," Fahmy said on Saturday.

But "it does not mean everything has been resolved. It does not mean there won't be hiccups in the relationship in the future," he told AFP.
Most Read
Powered By: HTD Technologies
Ma'an News Agency
All rights reserved © 2005-2015