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Russia, Egypt sign deal for nuclear power plant

December 11, 2017

Egypt and Russia have signed a contract to build Egypt's first nuclear power plant during a visit by Russian President Vladimir Putin. The Russian leader also voiced a willingness to resume direct flights to Egypt.

Russian President Vladmir Putin shakes hands with Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi
Image: Imago/ITAR-TASS/M. Metzel

A final contract to start work constructing Egypt's first nuclear power plant was signed on Monday in Cairo during a meeting between Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi and Russian President Vladimir Putin.

The power plant, which will contain four 1,200 megawatt reactors, will be built in Dabaa on the Mediterranean coast.

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The head of the Russian state nuclear company Rosatom, Alexei Likhachev, and Egypt's electricity and renewable energy minister Mohamed Shaker signed the agreement in a live ceremony that was broadcast on state television.

Rosatom said on Monday that the Dabaa nuclear power plant was expected to cost an estimated $21 billion (€17.8 billion) and would be finished in either 2028 or 2029. In 2015, Cairo and Moscow signed an initial agreement to build the plant, with Russia giving a loan to help cover construction costs.

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Putin urges 'immediate' resumption of peace talks

During the meeting, Putin called for Israeli-Palestinian peace talks to resume, including discussions on Jerusalem following US President Donald Trump's controversial decision to recognize the city as Israel's capital.

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Speaking on state television, Putin stressed the importance of "the immediate resumption of Palestinian-Israeli talks over all disputed issues, including the status of Jerusalem."

He also said that quick, long-term agreements that benefit both sides must be made.

"These agreements must be in harmony with previous decisions of the international community," said Putin, adding that "Russia fully supports previous Security Council resolutions".

Moscow to resume flights

Putin and el-Sisi also discussed resuming Russian passenger flights to Egypt, with Russia's transport minister saying the flights could be resumed in early February.

Moscow halted passenger flights to Egypt in 2015 after militants bombed a Russian passenger plane, Metrojet Flight 9268, leaving the tourist resort of Sharm el-Sheikh, killing 224 people on board.

Deepening relations

Monday's agreement and Putin's talks with el-Sissi are the latest moves towards increasing cooperation between the two countries after the US denied Egypt $95.7 million in aid in August over failing to make progress on human rights.

Egypt is the second-largest recipient of US military aid after Israel and plays a key role in the Middle East due to its control over the Suez Canal.

Russia, which launched an operation to support Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in 2015, has been seeking to expand its military presence in the region. Earlier on Monday, Putin announced a partial withdrawal of Russia troops from the region.

In November, Moscow published a draft agreement that would allow Russia and Egypt to use each other's air bases and air space for their military planes.

Following his meeting in Cairo, Putin is due to fly to Turkey for talks with President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

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rs/msh   (AFP, Reuters)