Egypt says Russia is not a 'substitute for anyone' during high level meeting

Egypt's interim president Adly Mansour (R) meets with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov (2-L), and Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu (L) on November 14, 2013 at the presidential palace in Cairo.

Egypt's foreign minister hailed a new level of cooperation with Russia Thursday, as top-level Russian officials visited Cairo.

"We look forward to cooperation with Russia in multiple fields and that is because of Russia's significance in the international arena," said Nabil Fahmy at a news conference.

"Russia's weight is too heavy to be a substitute for anyone," he said, seeking to dispel the notion that Russia was replacing the United States as Egypt's key ally.

Tension between Cairo and Washington has mounted since democratically-elected Islamist President Mohamed Morsi was ousted on July 3. Last month, Washington announced it would withhold deliveries of some military and economic aid pending progress on democracy.

Egypt and the Soviet Union were close allies until the 1970s, when Cairo moved closer to the United States, which brokered its 1979 peace deal with Israel.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said talks between the two delegations had touched on boosting economic and trade relations.

In response to a question about Egypt's current political situation, Lavrov said, "Russia is against any foreign intervention in internal affairs and we respect Egypt's sovereignty and the rights of Egyptian people to determine their future."

General Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, Egypt's army chief and defense minister, told his Russian counterpart, Sergei Shoigu, the visit indicated the continuation of "historic strategic relations via starting a new era of constructive, fruitful cooperation on the military level", the state news agency reported.

Shoigu and Sisi talked about strengthening military relations between the countries, the agency said.

Lavrov said, "We are ready to help Egypt in all the fields where it seeks cooperation."

According to Ruslan Pukhov, a member of the Russian Defense Ministry's advisory board, Egypt might be looking to acquire as much as $2 billion in weaponry from Russia, including MiG-29 fighter jets and anti-tank missiles.

Agence France-Presse and Reuters contributed to this report.