Mursi to seek oil, food supplies in Russia
Cairo, April 15, 2013
Egypt's President Mohamed Mursi will seek oil, gas and grain silos when he visits Russia this week in a bid to revive cooperation that flourished in the Soviet era, officials said.
The official newspaper of the governing Freedom and Justice Party said Mursi would travel to Moscow on Friday for talks with President Vladimir Putin on closer economic cooperation and efforts to end the civil war in Syria.
Egypt is seeking financial support, food and energy supplies on concessionary terms from a range of friends and allies to ease an economic crisis that has deepened since the uprising that toppled former President Hosni Mubarak in 2011.
Mursi's top foreign affairs adviser, Essam Haddad, had three days of preparatory talks in Moscow last week and said in a statement he reached agreement on strengthening cooperation in the oil and gas industries.
They also agreed that Russian companies would participate in rail and metro projects, build wheat storage silos in Egypt and revive strategic industries in which the former Soviet Union played a key role such as steel, aluminium, turbines and electricity, the statement said.
In the heyday of Soviet-Egyptian friendship in the 1950s and 1960s, Moscow helped build the vital Aswan Dam that controls the Nile River in Upper Egypt.
The late President Anwar al-Sadat expelled Soviet military advisers in 1972 when he turned towards the West before embarking on a peace process with Israel.
Egypt secured $5 billion euros in stopgap financial support last week from Arab allies Qatar and Libya.
However, talks with the International Monetary Fund on a $4.8 billion loan are dragging on without agreement because Cairo is balking at cutting costly fuel subsidies and raising sales taxes, diplomats said.
On Syria, Egypt is trying to broker a negotiated transition to a democratic government without President Bashar al-Assad, but Russia remains Syria's biggest arms supplier and diplomatic protector at the United Nations, vetoing Security Council resolutions that would sanction on Damascus. - Reuters