November 14, 2013
Egypt Welcomes Top Russian Envoys for Talks on Military Cooperation
Egyptian leaders extended a warm welcome to senior Russian officials who arrived in Cairo Thursday for talks on what Moscow's top diplomat described as "military collaboration."
Details of the talks were not disclosed. But Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov later told reporters they focused on military and technical cooperation - a frequent Russian euphemism for military arms sales.
The visit by Lavrov and Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu comes in the wake of a diplomatic dispute with Egypt's long-time ally the United States over the military's ouster of Islamist President Mohamed Morsi in July.
In response to Morsi's removal, the Obama administration suspended delivery of Apache helicopters and F-16 fighter jets to the interim government in Cairo. The move was described by U.S. officials last month as an effort to encourage "credible progress" toward free Egyptian elections and a democratic civilian government.
Thursday's Cairo meetings are thought to be the first top-level defense contacts between Moscow and Cairo since the 1970s, when the Egyptian government expelled Soviet military advisers and later signed the historic 1979 peace treaty with Israel.
Since then, the United States has supplied tens of billions of dollars in aid to Cairo.
Egyptian military leaders have voiced criticism of the U.S. aid suspension, which has also triggered sharp anti-U.S. backlash in Egyptian media.
In other developments Thursday, Egyptian news reports say Morsi - in government detention since July - was transferred from a prison hospital to what is being described as a single-occupancy cell in a huge prison complex.
The move follows a statement earlier this week from Morsi lawyers saying their jailed client planned to take legal action against the Cairo government in an attempt to prove his removal from office was a crime.