Russian President Vladimir Putin with President Abdel Fatah al-Sisi, 11 December 2017- Press Photo
CAIRO – 11 December 2017: Russian President Vladimir Putin held a short visit to Cairo on Monday to discuss regional issues and bilateral projects with Egyptian President Abdel Fatah al-Sisi. However, Putin did not announce the resumption of direct flights from Russia to Egypt, in contrast to what has been expected by the Egyptian public. The following are key matters addressed in the visit.
Dabaa Nuclear Power Plant
Putin and Sisi witnessed the signing of the Dabaa nuclear power plant contracts between the Ministry of Electricity and Renewable Energy and Russian nuclear firm Rosatom. The contracts cover designing and constructing the plant, supplying nuclear fuel, consulting services for operation and maintenance, and fuel recycling.
The plant includes four third-generation reactors with a capacity of 1,200 megawatts (MW) each, for a total of 4,800 megawatts. The plant will be built on approximately 12,000 feddans and is expected to create over 50,000 job opportunities. The first reactor will be accomplished in 2026, while the rest will be finished in 2028.
A preliminary agreement was signed by Egypt and Russia in November 2015 to build a nuclear power plant in Dabaa, along with a $25 billion loan to cover 85 percent of the plant, with Egypt funding the remaining 15 percent. Local funding for the first two reactors will be 20 and 25 percent respectively, and will gradually increase to 35 percent for the other two reactors.
Both leaders discussed the recent decision by the United States to move its embassy in Israel to Jerusalem from Tel Aviv, and its repercussions on the region. The president and his Russian counterpart agreed on the necessity of adhering to the United Nations (U.N.) resolutions on Jerusalem’s status.
The talks included the potential political settlements in Syria and Libya. Both leaders agreed on increasing the de-confliction spots, which would support the negotiations led by the U.S. delegate to Syria.
Putin told President Sisi that he would inform him of the details of his meeting with Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad earlier on Monday, and he also stressed “the many upcoming good projects, including the Dabaa nuclear power plant.”
Russia Today reported that Putin told the Egyptian president that he would also update him on Russia’s agreements with the leaderships of Turkey and Iran regarding the next steps of the political settlement in Syria.
Both presidents agreed on strengthening the exchange of information between both countries on anti-terrorism efforts, especially regarding the issue of terrorists fleeing instable spots to other countries. Sisi also highlighted that it is crucial for countries to inhibit the passage of terrorists through their territories, as well as reporting any relevant information to other countries and entitled international organizations.
Putin announced that a protocol will be signed by Russia and Egypt soon in order to resume direct flights from Russia to Egypt, as they have been halted after a plane carrying Russian tourists crashed over Sinai in 2015.
Later on, Russian Minister of Transport Maksim Sokolov stated that Russia is ready to sign a protocol with Egypt to resume direct passenger flights from Russia to Egypt this week, according to Reuters. Sokolov added that EgyptAir and Russian Aeroflot flights may resume in February.
On the other hand, President Sisi said that Egypt is looking forward to increasing Russian investment in Egypt, especially in the Russian industrial zone in the Suez Canal Economic Zone (SCZone).
"Russia is giving huge importance to its economic ties with Egypt," Putin said, noting that the project is expected to amount to $7 billion serving industrial and logistics sectors. The size of Egyptian-Russian trade reached $4 billion in 2017, Putin added.