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Russia, Egypt support forming anti-IS coalition with Syria's Assad Open in fullscreen

The New Arab

Russia, Egypt support forming anti-IS coalition with Syria's Assad

Sisi has visited Moscow three times since coming into power in 2014 [Getty]

Date of publication: 27 August, 2015

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President Putin and visiting Egyptian president called on Wednesday for a new coalition to fight Islamic State group to include Cairo and the Assad regime.
Egyptian President Abd al-Fattah al-Sisi met with his Russian counterpart President Vladimir Putin on Wednesday, during a joint press conference the presidents announced a Russian initiative to form a coalition to fight the Islamic state group [IS], which includes Syrian President Bashar al-Assad as one of its partners.

The heads-of-state also discussed the construction of the Dabaa nuclear power plant in northern Egypt and possible cooperation between Egypt and the Eurasian Economic Union, during Sisi’s third state visit to Moscow.

     We stressed the importance of forming a large counter-terrorist front of key regional players, which includes Syria
- Vladimir Putin

“We stressed the importance of forming a large counter-terrorist front of key regional players, which includes Syria. We share the opinion of the necessity to increase counter-terrorism against IS,” Putin said.

Sisi said "the Egyptian people" were hoping for broader ties with Russia in all areas, particularly in fighting terrorism in the Middle East.

A coalition including Syria would put Egypt at odds with Saudi Arabia, whose foreign minister said, “there is no place for Assad in the future of Syria”, during his visit to Russia earlier this month.

Syria was also a main focus of discussion during Putin’s meeting with the leaders of Saudi Arabia and Jordan on Tuesday.

“Professionals of both countries are finalising the process constructing the Dabaa nuclear power plant,” the Russian President said.

In February, Rosatom’s President Sergey Kirienko signed a $5bn letter of intent with the Egyptian Electricity Minister to build four nuclear power plants at the Dabaa site on the north coast of Egypt.

Putin spoke of possible cooperation between Egypt and the Eurasian Economic Union.

"Among concrete steps to give additional stimulus to the economy is a possible creation of a free trade zone between Egypt and the Eurasian Economic Union," he said.

Putin also announced that Russia plans to increase grain export to Egypt and set up a Russian industrial zone in the Suez Canal area.

On Wednesday, the Russian state-owned news agency Sputnik ran an op-ed on Egypt that harshly criticised the Egyptian government - the same day as Sisi’s state visit.

“The illegal Egyptian military dictatorship that overthrew on Washington’s orders the first democratically elected government in Egyptian history …. and more or less eliminated all of the leadership of the political party,” the article said.

Putin has been cultivating ties with Egypt, a Soviet ally for much of the Cold War and traditional export market for Russian arms.

Putin was the first leader of a major power to visit Egypt since Sisi, a former army chief, became president in 2014, having toppled President Mohammed Morsi the previous year after mass protests against his rule.

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