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Russia, Egypt working on deal to use each other’s air bases

Russia and Egypt are set to finalize a deal allowing both countries to use each other’s air space and air bases for their military aircraft. 

The Kremlin published on Thursday a draft of the military deal which is to be finalized between the two countries.

The draft agreement, signed by Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev on Nov. 28, instructed the Russian Defense Ministry to hold negotiations with the Egyptian military to finalize the agreement.

The draft deal was published shortly after Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu visited Cairo for talks with Egypt’s political and military leadership on Wednesday.

Under the deal, Russian and Egyptian military aircraft would be allowed to fly in each other’s air space and use one another’s airfields by giving a five-day advance notice.

The duration of the initial agreement is expected to be five years, however, it could be extended and last for as long as the conditions demand.

Egyptian leaders have been traditionally on very good terms with Moscow. In the 50s and 60s, then president Gamal Abdel Nasser enjoyed vast support from the former USSR.

Deposed president Hosni Mubarak, who had studied in a Soviet military school and ruled over Egypt for three decades, signed a nuclear deal with Russia.

In 2013, former president Mohammad Morsi visited Russia to strengthen ties and relations between the two countries continued to improve even after he was ousted.

President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, who hails from the ruling junta, has indicated that he wishes to return to Soviet-level relations with Russia.

This image taken on November 20, 2017 in Sochi shows Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu (R), Russia’s President Vladimir Putin (C), with his Syrian counterpart Bashar al-Assad. (Photo by AFP)

Experts say Moscow, which has a huge military presence in nearby Syria and close links with Libya’s powerful military commander Khalifa Haftar, is keen to further expand its military presence in the Middle East and North Africa via the deal with Egypt.

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