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Russia sending foreign, defence chiefs to Egypt

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(Globalpost/GlobalPost)

Russia's foreign and defence ministers will travel to Cairo next week for joint talks with their Egyptian counterparts about weapons sales and political relations, a Russian official said on Friday.

Moscow's foreign ministry spokesman said the "2+2" talks will be held on Wednesday and Thursday and for the first time involve both Russia's top diplomat Sergei Lavrov and Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu.

"The visit and discussion in such a format will be conducted for the first time in the history of our friendly relations (with Egypt)," spokesman Alexander Lukashevich told reporters.

Lukashevich said the discussion will touch on "military and technical cooperation" -- a Russian euphemism for arms sales -- as well as political and economic ties.

An official at Russia's Rosoboronexport state weapons exporter said Moscow was ready to foster its "traditional (military) ties" with Cairo.

"We are ready to conduct negotiations with the Egyptians about the possibility of both supplying new military equipment, and repairing equipment supplied in Soviet times," an unnamed Rosoboronexport told the state-run RIA Novosti news agency.

Russia has had complicated but sometimes close relations with Egypt that included Soviet-era support for the deposed ex-president Hosni Mubarak.

Moscow has also said little about this year's ouster of Islamist-backed president Mohamed Morsi.

But Egypt's Prime Minister Hazem el-Beblawi has said that Cairo may look to Moscow for weapons after having some its military aid suspended by Washington over its crackdown on Morsi's Muslim Brotherhood movement.

zak/cc

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/afp/131108/russia-sending-foreign-defence-chiefs-egypt-0