Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak and Russia's President Vladimir Putin oversaw the signing Tuesday of a deal that will allow Moscow to bid for the construction of Egypt's first atomic power station. The head of Russia's Rosatom nuclear energy agency, Sergei Kiriyenko, and Egyptian Energy Minister Hassan Younis signed the civilian nuclear cooperation agreement.
The agreement will allow Russia to bid in an international tender for a US$1.5-1.8 billion reactor project on Egypt's Mediterranean coast. According to AFP, Mubarak said the deal was reached after "difficult" negotiations.
Putin hailed Egypt as "one of the leaders of the Islamic and the Arab world" and said Russo-Egyptian ties were of "strategic importance." President-elect Dmitry Medvedev, who takes over the Kremlin from Putin in May, told Mubarak he expected a "productive partnership" in the nuclear sphere, ITAR-TASS news agency reported.
In an interview with state-owned Rossiiskaya Gazeta daily, Mubarak expressed "full satisfaction with the level of international political consultations between Cairo and Moscow.
"However, since friends must always be open with each other, I must say that I am not as happy with the volume of Russian investment into Egypt's economy," Mubarak added. Kommersant had reported that the nuclear cooperation deal had been top of the agenda Its sources had hinted that "Moscow gave some ground to Cairo and now expects an answer," it said.
The daily added: "Moscow particularly hopes that Cairo will return to buying Russian arms."