Cairo, Moscow in nuclear deal as Putin boosts ties

Cairo, Moscow in nuclear deal as Putin boosts ties
Updated 24 March 2015

Cairo, Moscow in nuclear deal as Putin boosts ties

Cairo, Moscow in nuclear deal as Putin boosts ties

CAIRO: Russian President Vladimir Putin met his Egyptian counterpart and agreed a deal to build a nuclear plant Tuesday as he sought to boost ties on his first visit to Cairo in a decade.
The two-day visit came with Moscow bidding to strengthen relations with the most populous Arab country at a time when Cairo’s alliance with Washington has frayed.
Putin is a key non-Arab backer of Egyptian President Abdel Fattah El-Sissi.
Experts say Putin’s visit was also aimed at showing he is not isolated internationally despite the crisis in Ukraine, where the Kremlin is accused of fomenting and sustaining a rebellion.
On Tuesday, Putin and El-Sissi made a brief statement to reporters after officials signed a memorandum of understanding to build a nuclear power plant in Dabaa on the Mediterranean coast — Egypt’s first such facility.
Egypt had taken steps in the early 1980s to launch a nuclear plant to produce electricity in Dabaa but it was shut down after the Chernobyl disaster in 1986.
In 2008 Putin had overseen along with then visiting Egyptian president Mubarak the signing of a deal enabling Moscow to bid for the construction of the nuclear power plant in Dabaa.
Putin and El-Sissi did not take any questions from reporters during their joint statement on Tuesday.
When the Russian leader arrived on Monday he held brief talks with El-Sissi and the two later attended a concert at the Opera House before dining in the capital’s landmark Cairo Tower.
Putin also gave a Kalashnikov assault rifle to El-Sissi as a gift.
Putin was received with a guard of honor and a 21-gun salute, while posters of the Russian leader were plastered on Cairo’s main roads greeting him in Russian, Arabic and English.
“Putin continues to take advantage of ambiguity and contradictions in Western policies toward the Middle East,” said Anna Borshchevskaya of The Washington Institute For Near East Policy.