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Egyptian Defence Minister Field Marshall Abdel-Fatah El-Sissi and Foreign Minister Nabil Fahmy are due in Moscow on an official state visit, local press in the capital Cairo reported on Wednesday.
This is the Defence Minister’s first visit overseas since the military pushed out former President Mohamad Morsi, who is currently on trial for a number of charges including breaking out of jail in 2011.
According to Al Ahram, the state newspaper, El-Sissi and Fahmy were in Russia to finalise an arms deal reached during Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov’s visit to Egypt in November.
Lavrov was accompanied by Russian Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu who discussed bilateral relations with their Egyptian counterparts amid speculation that relations between the two countries had entered a more engaged phase.
On October 24, an Egyptian public diplomacy delegation arrived in Moscow to “reinforce Egypt-Russia” ties. The trip came two weeks after the White House announced it would suspend up to one-third of its $1.6 billion assistance programme to Egypt.
Fahmy confirmed in an interview with RT Television in November that his government was carefully examining the purchase of new Russian weapons.
El-Sissi’s visit on Wednesday, during which he will meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin, comes less than a month after millions of Egyptians passed a referendum on constitutional amendments.
Since then, speculation has been rife in Egyptian media that the defence chief would run for president.