Russia: Putin meets el-Sissi in Sochi

13th Aug 2014

Egypt’s president has made his first official visit to Russia. Russian President Vladimir Putin and Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi discussed closer trade relations in the wake of a far-reaching import ban by Moscow on the West.

Russia will increase wheat exports to Egypt and agricultural imports from it, officials said in Sochi, where the two countries had discussed the potential for free trade. President Vladimir Putin (left in photo) greeted his Egyptian counterpart, Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi (right), at the airport in Sochi, the site of the 2014 Winter Games, with an array of weapons, including new armored vehicles and missile systems.

“Egypt has already increased supplies to our market by 30 percent (and) is ready to increase by yet another 30 percent in the near future,” Putin said after meeting with el-Sissi on Tuesday.

Human Rights Watch has called for an inquiry into killings during el-Sissi’s crackdown on the Muslim Brotherhood and urged Egypt’s allies to suspend military aid and cooperation until the government adopts measures to end human rights violations. Egypt’s government has rejected that report.

Putin said Russia started supplying weapons to Egypt in March, but gave no details.

‘Interested in opportunities’

Russia needs new suppliers after banning imports from the US, the EU, Australia, Canada and Norway last week in retaliation for sanctions over the country’s meddling in Ukraine. The trade dispute could go to the World Trade Organization.

Egyptian potatoes, onions, garlic and oranges could compensate for half the shortfall, Russian Agriculture Minister Nikolai Fyodorov told reporters. And Russia sells more wheat to Egypt than any other country – 3.6 million tons in the marketing year that ended in June.

The presidents discussed a free-trade zone comprising Egypt and Russia’s Customs Union, which includes Belarus and Kazakhstan. They also discussed setting up a transport logistics hub on the Black Sea coast and the creation of a Russian industrial hub in Egypt as part of its Suez Canal development project.

Russia has also looked to Latin America in the wake of the sanctions. Brazil’s beef exports soared in July, thanks mainly to a doubling in purchases by Russia. The country’s Association of Meat Exporters announced on Tuesday that it had shipped 113 percent more beef to Russia in July 2014 compared to one year, totaling $181 million (135.4 million euros) last month.

“Latin America does not have a moral imperative to preserve Brussels’ policy on Russia,” Carl Meacham, the director of the Americas Program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington, told DW on Tuesday.

Reuters, AFP, AP)

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