Fahmy Clarifies Putin Support for El-Sisi Candidacy

Russian backing for a presidential bid by Field Marshal Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi was an act of support for Egypt and its people not an act of personal support for the army chief, Egyptian Foreign Minister Nabil Fahmy claimed on Sunday.

The United States on Thursday rebuked Russian President Vladimir Putin for throwing his weight behind El-Sisi’s potential presidential candidacy.

“I was not surprised by US discomfort at [El-Sisi’s] visit to Russia and the state department’s statement didn’t bother me,” Fahmy said in comments reported by state news agency MENA.

Fahmy emphasised that closer ties between Cairo and Moscow would not impact “historical” relations between Washington and its key Middle East ally.

Talks between Egypt and the US have not started and Washington is still considering a detailed proposal from Egypt, Fahmy noted.

President Putin on Thursday endorsed a presidential bid by the Egyptian army chief during talks in Moscow. Field Marshall El-Sisi has yet to officially announce he will stand in elections expected this spring, but speculation is rife that he will do so soon.

Egyptian foreign policy is not focused on strong ties with one country, Fahmy said, but aimed at developing ties with various countries.

Relations between Egypt and Russia will witness developments in various areas over the coming period, he added.

El-Sisi was on a visit to Moscow along with Fahmy for a second round of “2+2” talks with their Russian counterparts, which started last November.

Russia’s top diplomat Sergei Lavrov and Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu visited Cairo for two days in mid-November to discuss arms sales as well as political and economic cooperation

The visit came amid tensions between United States and its key Middle East ally, after Washington withdrew some of its military aid to Cairo following the ouster of Islamist president Mohamed Morsi in July 2013 and an ensuing crackdown on his supporters.

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.

Source: MENA