CAIRO: Army chief Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, who is likely to become Egypt’s next president, headed to Russia accompanied by Foreign Minister Nabil Fahmy on Wednesday to discuss bilateral cooperation, the army said.
Field Marshal Sisi, who is also Egypt’s defence minister and deputy prime minister, and Fahmy would hold “2+2” talks with their Russian counterparts, army spokesman Colonel Ahmed Aly said in a statement.
The talks would focus on “bilateral relations and aspects of cooperation between the two countries”, the statement said.
Egypt foreign ministry spokesman Badr Abdelatty told AFP the two men had Wednesday left Cairo for a visit to Russia that would last two days.
The trip comes “in response to the historic visit of the Russian defence and foreign ministers to Cairo” last November, the army statement said.
Russia’s top diplomat Sergei Lavrov and Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu visited Cairo for two days mid-November to discuss weapons sales as well as political and economic ties.
That visit came amid tension between Egypt and its longtime ally the United States, which has suspended some of its military aid to Cairo after Sisi toppled Islamist president Mohamed Morsi in July.
Egypt had close ties with Russia before then president Anwar Sadat made peace with Israel in 1979, bringing in roughly $1.3 billion in annual US military aid over the subsequent decades.
Since Morsi’s ouster, the military-installed government has been waging a deadly crackdown on his supporters that has left more than 1,400 people dead according to Amnesty international and thousands others jailed.
Sisi, who is hugely popular after ousting the unpopular Morsi, is expected to stand in upcoming presidential elections, which he is likely to win by a landslide.