Putin spells out support for Sisi presidency, calls army chief's bid "responsible"
Russia's president Vladimir Putin provided public support for Egyptian army chief Abdel Fattah El Sisi's rumoured presidential bid during talks with Sisi in Moscow Thursday, according to Agence France Presse.
Putin told the army chief, "I know that you, Mr. defence minister, have decided to run for president of Egypt. It’s a very responsible decision... I wish you luck both from myself personally and from the Russian people.”
Sisi and Putin held meetings Thursday as part of the army chief's rare visit to Moscow to negotiate an arms deal between Russia and Egypt estimated to be worth $2 billion and designed to fill the aid gap created from the United States' decision to withdraw much of its assistance to Cairo last year.
The meetings between Russian officials and Sisi, who was accompanied by Cairo's Foreign Minister Nabil Fahmy, commenced Wednesday, with the leaders citing that in addition to the arms deal which leaders confirmed was the main topic up for discussion during the visit, regional security issues as well as trade and economic relations would be on the table.
This week's meeting represents the first time that Moscow and Cairo have met since November when Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu met with their counterparts in Egypt in an effort to revive ties between the two countries that have "remained stagnant" since the USSR era.
Russia's state industrial company Rostec leadership told reporters following the November meeting that the two countries were planning to revive their relationship in part through a landmark deal that would deliver air defense systems to Egypt's army from Moscow, but no firm delivery contracts have yet been signed or implemented due to funding problems and ongoing discussions among Egyptian authorities.
The USSR served as Egypt's main arms supplier in the 1960s and 1970s, but the relationship largely ended with the arrival of generous U.S. aid following Cairo's decision to sign a peace treaty with Israel.
The U.S. decision to therefore suspend its military aid to Egypt late last year following the oust of democratically-elected Islamist president Mohammed Morsi has led Cairo to revisit and invest more effort in rebuilding its relationship with Moscow in order to fill this critical aid gap.