Putin to visit Egypt next week

AP

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Russian President Vladimir Putin gestures while speaking to employees of Rostec Corporation during an awarding ceremony at the Novo-Ogaryovo state residence outside in Moscow, Russia, Thursday, Dec. 7, 2017. The spokesman for Vladimir Putin says the Russian president has not decided yet whether to run for office next year as an independent candidate or secure support from the ruling party. (Sergei Karpukhin/Pool Photo via AP)

MOSCOW (AP) Russian President Vladimir Putin will visit Egypt next week to discuss expanding political, economic, energy and trade ties, officials said Thursday.

During Monday's trip the Russian leader will hold talks with Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi on issues related to stability and security in the Middle East and North Africa, the Kremlin said.

The Egyptian government said Putin's visit reflects the shared commitment to "strengthening the historic and strategic relations" between Moscow and Cairo.

Putin's visit follows the Russian government's announcement last week that Moscow and Cairo have drafted an agreement for Russian warplanes to use Egyptian military bases.

The deal comes as part of Moscow's efforts to further expand its military foothold in the region following its campaign in Syria.

Under el-Sissi, Egypt has expanded military ties with Russia and signed a slew of deals to buy Russian weapons.

On a visit to Cairo last week, Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu noted an increase in military cooperation between the two countries and emphasized the need to strengthen cooperation in fighting terrorism.

An Islamic State affiliate based in the northern part of Egypt's Sinai Peninsula claimed responsibility for the October 2015 downing of a Russian passenger jet that killed all 224 people on board, mostly Russian tourists.

The bombing prompted Russia to cut commercial flights with Egypt, a heavy blow that decimated the country's vital tourism industry.

Moscow and Cairo have held talks on boosting airport security and resuming the air link, but no agreement has been reached so far.

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