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Cairo, Moscow in nuclear deal as Vladimir Putin bids to boost ties

Update: February, 11/2015 - 10:31

CAIRO — Russian President Vladimir Putin met his Egyptian counterpart on Tuesday and agreed a deal to build a nuclear plant, as he sought to boost ties on his first visit to Cairo in a decade.

Putin and Sisi made a brief statement after officials signed a memorandum of understanding to build a nuclear power plant in Dabaa on the Mediterranean coast - Egypt's first such facility.

"If we can reach final decisions, then we can create a new sector in the Egyptian economy based on the construction of the plant, the training of technical staff and development of scientific research," Putin said.

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 was received with a guard of honour and a 21-gun salute, while posters of him were plastered on Cairo's main roads greeting him in Russian, Arabic and English.

After arriving on Monday, he and Sisi had attended a concert at the Opera House before dining in the landmark Cairo Tower.

Putin also gave a Kalashnikov assault rifle to Sisi as a gift.

Russia hosted Sisi's predecessor Morsi during his one-year presidency despite having branded his Muslim Brotherhood movement a "terrorist group" in 2003.

But Moscow was also one of the first countries to endorse Sisi's presidency last year.

Sisi visited Russia when he was defence minister soon after ousting Morsi - amid deteriorating relations with Washington - and he followed up with an August 2014 trip as president.

At their meeting last summer at Putin's summer residence in Sochi, the two discussed Russia supplying weapons to Egypt, which is fighting an insurgency in the Sinai Peninsula that has killed scores of policemen and soldiers.

On Tuesday the two leaders also agreed "on further military cooperation between our two countries given the current circumstances" in Egypt, said Sisi. — AFP

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