Mubarak set for talks at Kremlin on nuclear and arms trade

March 25th, 2008 - 7:00 pm ICT by admin  

Moscow, March 25 (DPA) Egyptian President Hosny Mubarak is expected strike a deal with Moscow during his visit on nuclear cooperation, the terms of which will depend on Russia’s ambition to sell arms to Cairo, Russian newspapers said Tuesday. In opening a two-day visit at the Kremlin, Mubarak expressed hope that “relations which have lasted over 50 years will further develop successfully.”

The Egyptian leader, who trained as a pilot in the former Soviet Union, remembered: “I have been in this country many times, I know it well.”

Mubarak will be the first leader of an Arab state to meet President-elect Dmitry Medvedev, but diplomats said Tuesday the kernel of the talks would be nuclear cooperation.

“Atomic energy is a promising sphere of cooperation … the crucial step here will be the signing of an agreement on the peaceful use of nuclear energy during Mubarak’s visit,” news agency Interfax quoted a diplomat close to the talks as saying on Tuesday.

Last October, Mubarak announced that Egypt would build a host of up to eight nuclear power plants to meet growing energy needs.

China and Kazakhstan are among those said to be competing with Moscow for the more than $1.5 billion contract to begin developing the first plant after 2009.

A delicate point for Russia in the agreement is Egypt’s push to control the full cycle of nuclear production, including uranium enrichment, which can be refined for nuclear weapons.

Egyptian independent daily al-Masri al-Youm quoted official sources as saying last week that the US was opposed to a potential nuclear cooperation deal between Moscow and Cairo.

Moscow could be willing to compromise with Egypt’s wishes in spite of international protests in the hopes of a reviving lucrative weapons trade with Cairo, business newspaper Kommersant reported Tuesday quoting own sources.

This is another issue that will likely wrangle with the US, which is currently the biggest provider of arms and aid to Egypt.

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