Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah al-Sisi arrived early on Tuesday in the Russian Black Sea city of Sochi to start a brief visit upon an invitation by his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin, state news agency MENA reported.
This is Al-Sisi’s first visit to a foreign, non-Arab/African state since he was sworn in as president on 8 June after winning a crushing election victory.
During Al-Sisi’s two-day visit, both leaders are due to tackle mutual ties and the latest developments in the Middle East, including truce efforts in the embattled Gaza Strip and the growing violence in Syria, Libya and Iraq.
Al-Sisi paid a visit to Moscow in February when he was still Egypt’s army chief, during which he negotiated an arms deal amid strained relations with Washington, which had held off parts of its annual assistance to Cairo following the ouster of Islamist president Mohamed Morsi and a harsh crackdown on his Muslim Brotherhood movement.
During his visit, Putin gave Al-Sisi his backing to be elected as the country’s president.
Egypt had strong ties with Russia in the 1950s and 1960s, and the Soviet Union was the main supplier of arms to Egypt until the early 1970s. Relations soured after Israel and Egypt signed a peace treaty bringing in some $1.3 billion in annual US military aid to Cairo in 1979.
Russia provides Egypt’s tourism industry, significantly hammered by three years of political turmoil since the 2011 uprising, with over 40% of European tourists.
Al-Sisi held a mini-summit in Saudi Arabia late on Sunday where he discussed with Saudi King Abdullah developments in Syria, Iraq, Gaza and Libya, in the retired field marshal’s first visit to Cairo’s powerful regional ally since he was elected president.
Source: MENA & Ahram Online