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Egypt's Sisi to visit Russia for third time as president

Egyptian-Russian relations have greatly improved since the 2013 military coup that deposed president Mohamed Morsi
Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah al-Sisi shakes hands with his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin in Cairo (AFP)

CAIRO – Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi will visit Russia on 25 August for talks with his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin, the Egyptian presidency said on Thursday.

In a statement, the presidency said the three-day visit aims to "boost strategic relations" between the two countries.

“The president’s visit to Russia and his meeting with ... Putin comes in the framework of the distinguished relations between the two countries,” the statement said, according to The Cairo Post.

“The visit will give an opportunity to enhance cooperation with Russia in various fields, particularly economically.” 

According to the statement, Sisi will hold talks with senior Russian officials and heads of Russian companies during the visit.

The visit will be Sisi's third trip to Russia since he became president.

Egyptian-Russian relations have greatly improved since the 2013 coup when the Egyptian army deposed democratically elected president Mohamed Morsi.

The two countries signed a $3.5bn arms deal during a previous visit by Sisi to Russia.

Sisi and Putin announced in February that Moscow would assist Cairo in construct Egypt’s first nuclear power plant, to be located in the city of Dabaa. 

Agreements were also signed for Egypt to import Russian natural gas and for the establishment of a free trade zone in Egypt's eastern Ataqa region.

Trade volume between Egypt and Russia grew 103 percent in the past six months, according to Egypt's central bank.

According to some analysts, Egypt sought improved ties with Russia in order to compensate for strained relations with the US. Until releasing the funds this March, Washington had withheld some of its $1.5bn of military aid to Egypt following the 2013 coup.

In an opinion piece about Sisi's visit to Russia in February, journalist Sharif Nashashibi wrote on Al Jazeera that "although the [US aid] suspension was only partial and temporary, Egypt's government strongly condemned it and turned to Russia, which has been happy to fill the US void in the Arab world's most populous nation, and one of the region's most geopolitically important countries."

"The visit was the latest sign of a burgeoning relationship not just between the two countries, but between the two presidents, who both have a military background and share an uncompromising, strongman style of governance," Nashashibi wrote.

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