Putin, Sisi agree ‘close’ se­cu­rity co­op­er­a­tion

Kuwait Times - - INTERNAT IONAL -

MOSCOW: Rus­sian Pres­i­dent Vladimir Putin and his Egyp­tian coun­ter­part Ab­del Fat­tah Al-Sisi yes­ter­day agreed “close co­op­er­a­tion” be­tween their se­cu­rity ser­vices af­ter Moscow said a bomb brought down its pas­sen­ger jet over Si­nai. “In the con­text of the ef­forts to find the crim­i­nals in­volved in the ter­ror­ist act against the Rus­sian air­liner, close co­op­er­a­tion was agreed on be­tween the se­cu­rity ser­vices of Rus­sia and Egypt,” the Krem­lin said in a state­ment af­ter the lead­ers spoke by phone.

The in­ten­tion is to put in place “ad­di­tional mea­sures to as­sure the max­i­mum se­cu­rity of air traf­fic be­tween the two coun­tries in or­der to reestab­lish it as soon as pos­si­ble,” the state­ment said. Moscow on Tues­day said for the first time that the Air­bus plane that crashed shortly af­ter take-off from the Sharm el-Sheikh re­sort on Oct 31 was de­stroyed by a bomb but Egypt has not con­firmed the at­tack.

Cairo has in­sisted it is wait­ing for the re­sults of an Egyp­tian-led probe be­fore giv­ing a de­fin­i­tive ver­dict on what caused the crash that killed all 224 peo­ple on board. Egyp­tian au­thor­i­ties, how­ever, said on Tues­day that they were en­hanc­ing se­cu­rity in air­ports around the coun­try over the pos­si­bil­ity the plane was “tar­geted by a ter­ror­ist at­tack”. Moscow sus­pended all flights to Egypt on Nov 6 cit­ing the need to bol­ster air­port se­cu­rity, but at the time it played down grow­ing Western sus­pi­cions that a bomb had blown its plane out of the sky.

Putin has pledged to find and “pun­ish” those re­spon­si­ble for the at­tack -the blood­i­est against a Rus­sian tar­get since the Bes­lan school mas­sacre in 2004 - and his se­cu­rity ser­vice has of­fered a $50 mil­lion re­ward to help find the cul­prits. While Moscow has not ex­plic­itly blamed any spe­cific group for the at­tack, ji­hadists linked to the Is­lamic State (IS) group have claimed re­spon­si­bil­ity and Rus­sian jets stepped up air strikes against IS tar­gets in Syria af­ter con­firm­ing the bomb­ing.

Moscow launched a mas­sive op­er­a­tion to repa­tri­ate tens of thou­sands of stranded hol­i­day­mak­ers af­ter cut­ting air links with Egypt and Rus­sia’s state tourism agency told TASS news agency that the last of those plan­ning to come back were to re­turn home yes­ter­day. — AFP

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