Russian, Egyptian Leaders To Discuss Middle East Situation

Russian President Vladimir Putin will meet with Egyptian leader Hosni Mubarak in the Kremlin on Friday. Mr Mubarak arrived in Moscow for an official visit the other day. According to Deputy Chief of the Presidential Administration Sergei Prikhodko, the two leaders will hold both face-to-face and extended format negotiations to be followed with a gala Kremlin reception in honour of the Egyptian president. To quote Prikhodko, the Middle East situation will be separately discussed. Diplomatic sources report that the sides will swap opinions on the possible ways to ease the current tension in the region. Besides, on the agenda will be the Iraqi issue and the situation in the Persian Gulf. According to RIA Novosti, Mubarak's visit will also put under discussion bilateral economic projects, including the purchase of Russia's aircraft Tupolev-204 by Egypt. The sources emphasised that the visit was being held as part of Russia's initiative to develop ties with Mideastern countries, designated to ensure its long-term interests in the region. Moscow and Cairo agree that the current level of bilateral cooperation does not correspond to the countries' potential. Therefore, the sides intend to ponder specific steps toward its intensification. At issue, in part, is upgrading of the Egyptian facilities built back in Soviet times, and power, peaceful atom and gas cooperation. Military-technical cooperation is also highly likely to be touched upon. The two presidents are expected to sign a declaration on mutual understanding, confidence, friendship and cooperation. Plans also call for signing a long-term program on cooperation in trade and economy, as well as science and technology. RIA Novosti has learnt from informed sources that it was Russia's turn to visit Egypt. The source also noted that Vladimir Putin did have the intention to go to Egypt but, in his words, it was impossible to go to Egypt without visiting Palestine and Israel, as it would have caused a certain disbalance. The source also claims that at present the Russian president cannot tour Palestine and Israel for the well known reasons. The source added that the Egyptian president had admitted Moscow's viewpoint and accepted the invitation to Russia. During his two-day visit, Hosni Mubarak is going to meet with Russian Prime Minister Mikhail Kasyanov, Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov, Security Council Secretary Vladimir Rushailo, Speaker of the Federation Council /upper house/ Yegor Stroyev, and tour the Khrunichev space science centre.