Egypt: Russia too important to be US substitute

2013-11-14 12:15

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

Cairo - Egypt's foreign minister sought to downplay speculation of a major shift in his country's foreign policy, saying during a top-level Russian visit on Thursday that Moscow was too important to be a substitute for the United States as Cairo's key ally and backer.

The remarks by Nabil Fahmy came after talks with his visiting counterpart Sergei Lavrov, who is leading the Russian delegation to Cairo.

"We look forward to co-operation with Russia in multiple fields and that is because of Russia's significance in the international arena," Fahmy said at a news conference. "We look forward to strong, continuous and stable relations with Russia. We seek to energise a relation that is already in existence."

When asked whether Russia would replace the US as his country's chief ally, Fahmy said Egypt was not looking for a "substitute for anyone".

"Russia's weight is too heavy to be a substitute for anyone," he said.

The Russian visit comes as Egypt's relationship with the United States - Cairo's main foreign backer and benefactor since the 1970s - has become increasingly strained in the wake of the popularly-backed coup that deposed an elected president, the Islamist Mohammed Morsi of Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood.

Egypt was Moscow's closest Arab ally for two decades, starting in the 1950s, with the Soviet Union throwing its weights behind the late nationalist leader Gamal Abdel-Nasser in his ambitious drive to modernize the Arab nation and create a well-armed military at the height of the Cold War and the Arab-Israeli conflict.

But in 1972, then-President Anwar Sadat threw out thousands of Soviet military advisers and realigned the country's foreign policy, taking his nation closer to the United States soon after the 1973 Mideast war.

Multi-billion dollar weapons deal

Also, Egypt's relations with the Soviet Union took a marked turn for the worse after Moscow's invasion of Afghanistan in 1979, but relations have steadily improved in recent years, with hundreds of thousands of Russians vacationing in Egypt every year.

The Russian delegation in Cairo is Moscow's highest-level visit in years and also includes Russia's defence minister, Sergei Shoigu, whose presence has set off rumours of an arms deal in the making.

Fahmy said he, Lavrov, Shigu and Egyptian Defence Minister Gen. Abdelk-Fattah el-Sissi, who led the July coup that ousted Morsi, would jointly meet later on Thursday.

The United States last month froze a big chunk of its annual $1.3bn military aid to Egypt. The move angered the Egyptians and prompted speculations in the local media that Egypt intended to sign a multi-billion dollar weapons deal with Russia. But there has so far been no official word from Cairo or Moscow on such a deal.

The Interfax news agency recently quoted an unidentified official of the state Rosoboronexport arms trader as saying that there are no plans to sign any contracts during the Cairo talks.

It said Egypt has shown interest in purchasing Russian air defence missile systems and MiG-29 fighter jets, combat helicopters and other weapons. But it quoted an unnamed official dealing with arms trade as saying that no big deals are expected in the near future as Egypt currently can't afford it.

At the news conference, Lavrov said Russia stands to gain from the return of stability to Egypt, a reference to the turmoil roiling the country since the ouster in the 2011 uprising of staunch US ally Hosni Mubarak.


Read more on:    muslim brotherhood  |  mohammed morsi  |  hosni mubarak  |  us  |  russia  |  egypt  |  north africa  |  egypt crisis

Join the conversation! encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.
NEXT ON NEWS24X publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
1 comment
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24

Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.