The Russian president Dmitry Medvedev is heading to Egypt today to sign a strategic co-operation pact with Cairo and speak to the Arab League as Russia seeks to boost its diplomatic clout in the Middle East. Russia's economic and trade ties and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict are expected to be high on the agenda when he meets the Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak in Cairo, the first stop on a four-nation Africa tour.
"The signing of an agreement on a strategic partnership between Russia and Egypt will become the central event of the Cairo summit," the Kremlin said in a statement. Mr Medvedev's visit comes after a trip to Egypt by the US president Barack Obama, who sought to reach out to the Muslim world in a landmark address in Cairo earlier this month. Russia, part of the diplomatic "quartet" charged with settling the Middle East conflict along with the European Union, the United Nations and the United States, is eager to strengthen its diplomatic and commercial clout abroad.