Russian-Egyptian foreign-ministry talks due in Moscow

Foreign ministers of Russian and Egypt, Igor Ivanov and Ahmed Maher, are meeting in Moscow on May 17th to discuss ways of strengthening Russian-Egyptian partnership with the help of agreements reached during a Russian-Egyptian summit meeting held in 2001, said Russia's official foreign ministry spokesman Alexander Yakovenko in a RIA Novosti interview. The ministers will also exchange opinions on regional and international problems. "For the most part, the positions Russia and Egypt hold on global political problems are either close or identical," noted Yakovenko. "Attention will focus on the task of overcoming the current Mideastern crisis," stressed the diplomat. "Both Russia and Egypt are deeply worried about the dangerous turn towards escalation of violence and about the Israeli military operation on Palestinian territories." On his part, the Egyptian foreign minister told RIA Novosti that Ivanov and himself intended to discuss "ways of streamlining the peace process in the Middle East," which he said was a very important issue because Russia was one of the four active participants in the Mideastern settlement and had a good relationship with Israel. He said Egypt and other Arab countries were hoping that Russia, "a traditional friend of Arab countries," would help "ease the tension and settle the situation in the Middle East." The situation around Iraq is another subject for the upcoming conversation. Moscow and Cairo share an opinion that it is necessary to closely adhere to resolutions passed by the United Nations Security Council and to have international inspectors back in Iraq as soon as possible. Other items on the agenda include Russian-Egyptian cooperation in the framework of the anti-terrorist campaign, including that in Afghanistan, topical issues dealing with international security, disarmament and non-proliferation, and others. The sides are also expected to consider a few matters of mutual interest, including the situations in Africa, Central Asia and Transcaucasia, added Yakovenko. Maher said he had brought a message from his President Hosni Mubarak, which he would hand over to Russian leader Vladimir Putin.

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