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Egypt's Sisi discusses $ 2-billion arms deal in Russia

Moscow officials confirm that a large part of the discussions will focus on striking a massive Russian arms delivery deal

AFP  |  Moscow 

Egypt's Sisi discusses $ 2-billion arms deal in Russia

Egyptian army chief and likely new president meets top Russian officials today to negotiate a $ 2-billion arms deal that is meant to replace subsiding assistance from old ally Washington.

Sisi arrived in on yesterday with Egyptian Foreign Minister Nabil Fahmy for so-called "2+2" talks with their Russian counterparts.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrvov and Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu had made a landmark trip to in November aimed at reviving ties that had remained stagnant since Soviet times.

Diplomats in said yesterday's talks would focus on regional security issues such as the Syria crisis as well as trade and economic relations.

But officials have confirmed that a large part of the discussions will focus on striking a massive new Russian arms delivery deal.

The head of Russia's state industrial holding company said after the meeting that Moscow was on the verge of reaching a landmark agreement to deliver air defence systems to Egypt's army.

Rostec chief Sergey Chemezov said on November 18 that "some contracts (with Egypt) have already been signed - particularly one concerning air defence systems."

But he later clarified that he was referring only to a framework agreement and not to firm delivery contracts.

"Because of arising funding problems, the Egyptian side is still discussing these contracts," Chemezov said at the time.

Moscow's authoritative Vedomosti business daily reported on November 15 that the deals under discussion were worth more than $ 2 billion and could be financed by Saudi Arabia.

Chemezov confirmed that Egypt's new rulers were discussing financing options with their regional allies "and also want to ask to extend them a corresponding loan."

He did not say whether was willing to provide the required assistance or explain what type of missiles the deal involved.

The Soviet Union was the main supplier of arms to in the 1960s and early 1970s. Cooperation between the two sides dropped after Israel and signed a peace treaty and Cairo began receiving generous US aid.

But Washington suspended some of its military assistance to after the July ousting of democratically-elected Islamist president Mohamed Morsi.

Moscow has been keen to fill the resulting void.

First Published: Thu, February 13 2014. 15:21 IST