Russia and Egypt discuss Ukraine war and Palestinian-Israeli tensions in Moscow

Foreign ministers Sergey Lavrov and Sameh Shoukry are seeking to calm the situation in West Bank territories

Sergey Lavrov (L) and Sameh Shoukry at a joint news conference in Moscow on Tuesday. EPA
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The Russian and Egyptian foreign ministers on Tuesday lauded their close relations after discussing the Ukraine war and tensions between Palestine and Israel.

Sameh Shoukry and Sergey Lavrov cited an annual trade volume of $6 billion and the construction of a nuclear power plant in Egypt as signs of their developing relationship after meeting in Moscow.

Russia and Ukraine were Egypt's largest suppliers of wheat, a staple for most of the Arab nation's 104 million people. On the eve of the war in Ukraine, visitors from the two nations accounted for more than 30 per cent of tourists in Egypt.

Egypt and Russia are also bound by close military ties, with Cairo in recent years procuring Russian-made helicopter gunships and fighter jets. Their forces regularly hold joint war games.

Mr Shoukry left for Moscow on Monday only hours after he met US Secretary of State Antony Blinken in Cairo and a week after CIA chief Robert Burns visited Egypt. Mr Blinken left Cairo on Monday for Jerusalem. He was in the West Bank on Tuesday.

Mr Blinken’s Middle East tour has been overshadowed by the outbreak of deadly violence between the Israelis and the Palestinians.

“There is no substitute for the continuation of communication between us,” Mr Shoukry said in response to a reporter’s question on whether Cairo and Moscow were jointly seeking to defuse Palestinian-Israeli tensions.

“We look forward to this joint effort, together with that of other partners, to come to fruition and end the circle of escalation.”

The two ministers said they also discussed the political crisis in Libya, whose two rival administrations are yet to agree on the terms of elections that were to take place in December 2021. They also discussed Russia-Ukraine war and developments in Syria, where Russia militarily intervened in 2015 on the side of President Bashar Al Assad’s government against its foes.

“At the request of the Egyptians, we offered them a detailed review of the situation in Ukraine … and how western powers are fuelling the conflict there,” said Mr Lavrov.

“I have emphasised Egypt’s interest in creating conditions that end the military confrontation in Ukraine,” said the Egyptian minister.

Updated: January 31, 2023, 3:37 PM