CAIRO: Russia will assist Egypt to establish its first nuclear power plant, and enter into a free trade zone and industrial zone in Egypt, President Sisi announced Tuesday.
“We signed a memorandum of understanding to establish a nuclear power plant in Dabaa to produce electricity,” Sisi stated in a news conference with his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin who is in Cairo for a two-day visit.
Sisi noted that such a project would help meet Egyptian demands for electricity; Egypt has suffered from a power crisis for years due to fuel shortages, that routinely result in rolling blackouts especially in the summer months with peak usage.
President Putin said during the conference, which was held after signing some agreements, said the project will include training of the Egyptians who would work in the field and development of scientific research.
In 1981, Egypt allocated the Dabaa area in Matrouh governorate, 183.9 miles from Cairo on the North Coast, to build its first nuclear 55-kilometer-square plant. Construction, however, has been stalled since then.
Putin noted the cooperation in the power field has been increased as Russia sent Egypt 107 million tons of petroleum products in 2014.
Free Trade Zone and Industrial City
President Sisi announced that both countries agreed to establish a free trade zone in Egypt in light of strengthening bilateral relations.
Sisi added that Egypt has development a plan to establish an industrial city in Ataqa city in the Suez governorate as one of the projects of Suez Canal Corridor.
During his two-day visit to Russia’s Sochi Aug. 13, Sisi reached an initial agreement to build a free trade zone in Egypt with the Russians.
“We have conducted today productive negotiations and continued our talks that had started in Sochi city on all cases of mutual concerns for both countries,” said Putin, who invited Sisi again to pay another visit to Russia.
Putin, who visited Egypt for the first time in 10 years, noted that trade betweeb the two nations has increased by 80 percent during the past few years, due to robust trade in agricultural and petroleum products.
Russia is the biggest wheat exporter to Egypt, while Egypt is one of the biggest exporter of other agriculture products, especially after the EU agreed July 29, 2014 to impose economic sanctions on Russia for its role in the Ukraine conflict. In a retaliatory step, Putin ordered Aug. 7 a ban on agricultural imports from the EU, France 24 reported.
In August 2014, Russian Agriculture Minister Nikolai Fyodorov told reporters in Sochi, according to Reuters, that Egyptian shipments of potatoes, onions, garlic and oranges should increase. He added this could help compensate a potential shortage of these products following the sanctions.
In Tuesday’s conference, Putin also announced it was agreed to expand investments in small and medium enterprises, adding that up to now, more than 400 Russian companies work in Egyptian territories. He talked also about the increasing number of the Russian tourists to Egypt.
Russian investments in Egypt amounted to $65.62 million in January 2013 with 383 Russian companies investing in Egypt, according to the Egyptian State Information Service. Egyptian investments in Russia reached to $13.7 million in December 2012.
Both countries tackled regional issues as well, including the Syrian crisis, Palestinian-Israeli peace talks, the Libya security crisis, the Yemenis situation, and international efforts to combat terrorism.
“I affirmed with President Putin the necessity to reach an urgent compromise to the Syrian crisis,” said Sisi, noting that holding dialogue between conflicting Syrian parties could put an end to the four-year-old crisis in accordance with Geneva Conference outcomes which include forming a transitional unity government.
Putin, Syrian regime’s ally, affirmed that the Syrian crisis should be solved politically between all different parties.
On Jan. 24, Cairo hosted a meeting with Syrian opposition members who announces as well the crisis should be solve politically.