Russia supports Sisi’s call to form unified Arab force to fight IS
Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Mikhail Bogdanov - AP

CAIRO: Russia supports Egypt’s call to form a unified Arab force to fight growing terrorist threats in the Middle East, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Mikhail Bogdanov was quoted as saying by Youm7 Tuesday.

Bogdanov, also the Russian president’s special envoy to the Middle East and Africa, said his country “always backs all efforts to develop a unified Arab position to combat terrorism under the umbrella of the Arab League.”

Bogdanov arrived in Cairo Monday evening for a two-day visit and was received by Arab League Secretary-General Nabil el-Araby. The visit comes weeks after Russian President Vladimir Putin’s visit to Cairo in early February.

In a televised interview Sunday, President Abdel Fatah al-Sisi said, “the need for a unified Arab force is growing and becoming more pressing every day.” He also noted that Jordan and the UAE have offered to send troops to fight militants of the Islamic State (IS) group in neighboring Libya.

The comments came three weeks after Egyptian airstrikes that targeted IS group in Libya, in response to the murder of 21 Egyptian Copts by the jihadist group.

Bogdanov also said his country “is still considering” Egypt’s request to the U.N. Security Council to lift an arms embargo on Libya, impose a naval blockade on areas not under government control and help build the Libyan army capability to fight the IS group militants.

Russia exercised its veto twice at the U.N. Security Council on the issue of Syria in the past two years; once in 2014, killing a resolution that would have referred the case of Syria to the International Criminal Court, and in 2012, on a resolution that would have subjected Syria to U.N. sanctions.

Russia, seen as an ally to Syria’s Bashar al-Assad, as well as an arms provider to his regime, has often cautioned against arming Syrian opposition forces, which it claims are responsible for some of the weapons that have been used to arm the Islamic State group.

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