SOCHI, August 12 (RIA Novosti) – Russian President Vladimir Putin is due to meet with his Egyptian counterpart, Abdel Fattah Sisi, in the Russian resort city of Sochi to discuss a wide range of political and economic issues, including the ongoing Gaza conflict, Egypt’s food deliveries to Russia and Russian military exports to Egypt, according to the Kremlin.
“The discussion will address urgent matters, linked to the development of Russian-Egyptian relations in various spheres,” a Kremlin official said.
The leaders are expected to study in great depth a wide range of bilateral economic issues, such as the creation of a free trade zone between Egypt and the Russia-led Customs Union, which also includes Belarus and Kazakhstan.
“The last year’s trade turnover was roughly at $3 billion. In the first half of this year, [this figure] almost doubled [some $2.5 billion],” the Kremlin said.
Following its embargo on agricultural products from the United States and the European Union, Russia has been looking for alternatives, and Egypt said it was willing to boost its fruits and vegetables exports. In return, Russia could profit from Egypt’s high demand for wheat.
Moscow and Cairo are also discussing deliveries of Russia’s high-tech military products, including 24 Mikoyan MiG-29 fighter jets, as well as its Kornet anti-tank missile systems, attack helicopters Kamov Ka-25, Mil Mi-28 and Mi-25.
Russia and Egypt, which is brokering an end to the ongoing Gaza armed conflict, have been keeping in touch on the situation in this highly volatile region, with the Russian president praising Cairo’s efforts toward a long-term armistice between the Israeli and the Palestinians.
Last week, President Putin in a phone conversation with Abdel Sisi lauded Egypt for mediating negotiations between the warring parties. Both leaders agreed to “encourage a nationwide dialogue, aimed at settling contentious issues through political means,” according to the Kremlin.
On July 8, Israel launched an offensive against the Hamas movement in response to the military group's rocket attacks. On July 17, the Israeli switched to a ground offensive to destroy the network of Hamas tunnels along the Gaza border with western Israel.
Around 1,900 people have lost their lives in Gaza, the majority of whom are civilians. Sixty-four Israeli soldiers have died since the operation Protective Edge was announced by Tel Aviv, with further three civilians killed in Israel, including a Thai national.