Russian FM in Egypt for talks on ties, dam on Nile
CAIRO — The foreign ministers of Egypt and Russia discussed trade and other ties between the two nations on Monday, with Egypt’s top diplomat urging Moscow to help settle Egypt’s dispute with Ethiopia over a massive Nile dam project.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov arrived in Cairo on Sunday for a two-day visit. He met on Monday with Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi before his talks with Foreign Minister Sameh Shukry.
In a joint news conference with Shukry, Lavrov said they discussed the implementation of joint megaprojects. They included a four-reactor power plant that a Russian firm is building in Egypt and a Russian industrial zone. Russian companies are expected to invest up to $7 billion in building industrial plants in the Suez Canal area.
The two ministers said they discussed regional conflicts in Libya, Syria and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, along with the political stalemate in Lebanon.
They discussed a massive dam Ethiopia is building on the Nile River’s main tributary, which Egypt and Sudan deem a major threat if it is filled and operated without a legally binding agreement.
“We also rely on Russia ... to push parties to refrain from unilateral actions,” Shukry said, referring to Ethiopia’s plans to start a second crucial stage of the dam’s filling during this year’s rainy season.
Lavrov said Russia was not invited to engage in the talks between Egypt, Sudan and Ethiopia, but has supported an African Union-led settlement to the yearslong dispute.
He did not address questions as to when Moscow would resume direct flights to Egypt’s Red Sea resorts. However, he told Egypt’s state-run Ahram daily in an interview published on Monday he expected the flights would be resumed “soon”.
Flights were suspended when the Islamic State terror group downed a Russian airliner over Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula in 2015, killing all 224 people on board. Egypt has since spent millions of dollars to upgrade security at its airports and undergone numerous checks by Russian experts.