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Egypt’s Sisi Meets with Russian Defense, Foreign Ministers | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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A handout picture provided by the Egyptian Presidency on May 29, 2017 shows Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi meeting with Russia’s Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov in Cairo

Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi on Monday held talks in Cairo with Russia’s foreign and defense ministers on ways to battle “terrorism”, his office said.

A statement said the talks with Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu focused on “the struggle against terrorism” and bilateral cooperation.

Lavrov earlier discussed the situation in chaos-riddled Libya with his Egyptian counterpart Sameh Shoukry, the foreign ministry in Cairo said.

Rival administrations and militias have been fighting for control of oil-rich Libya since the 2011 NATO-backed uprising that toppled and killed veteran dictator Muammar Gaddafi.

Egypt’s neighbor has also been a breeding and training ground for hardliners, including terror group ISIS.

The Cairo talks came after Egypt’s air force on Friday bombed terrorist training camps in eastern Libya.

The air strikes were launched hours after masked gunmen shot dead 29 Coptic Christians in central Egypt, in an attack later claimed by ISIS.

Forces loyal to east Libya military strongman Khalifa Haftar, which also took part in the strikes, said late Friday’s raids hit a pro-Al-Qaeda group in the Libyan city of Derna.

Sisi and his Russian visitors “agreed on the importance of uniting international efforts in the battle against terrorism” and to step up their cooperation to meet that goal, the Egyptian presidency said.

A statement said Sisi told the Russian ministers that Cairo wants to bolster “economic, commercial and industrial ties” with Moscow.

Monday’s talks also focused on the conflict in Syria.

Shoukry praised “Russia’s role in the success of the Astana process” — the talks in Kazakhstan trying to bring about peace in Syria — and said he hoped it would lead to “a total ceasefire”, his office said.

Earlier this month, Damascus allies Russia and Iran as well as rebel supporter Turkey signed a deal to create four “de-escalation” zones across some of Syria’s bloodiest battlegrounds.

Lavrov also met Arab League head Ahmed Aboul Gheit, with both men stressing the importance of “working seriously to find political solutions to the crises and armed conflicts in the Arab world”, the 22-member bloc said in a statement.

The Russian ministers’ visit to Cairo had been planned for weeks as part of regular meetings between the allied countries.