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Last Updated: Thursday, 2 November 2006, 19:13 GMT
Egypt and Russia strengthen ties
Russian President Vladimir Putin, right, and President of Egypt Hosni Mubarak
Putin and Mubarak have developed a warm relationship
The presidents of Russia and Egypt say their relations are blossoming, and expressed hopes for improved trade ties after a meeting in Moscow.

Hosni Mubarak said he felt "a strong connection" with Vladimir Putin.

In one of the main developments at the meeting, officials said Russia would tender for contracts to build nuclear power plants in Egypt.

Mr Putin also suggested Egypt should join the "Quartet" trying to negotiate peace in the Middle East.

This presidential visit comes almost a year after Vladimir Putin became the first Russian head of state to set foot in Egypt for 40 years.

It is clear that the two leaders enjoy a friendly relationship, says the BBC's Emma Simpson in Moscow.

Mr Mubarak recently urged Mr Putin to seek a third term in office, despite the constitutional limit of only two, saying his counterpart was a "very good, very clever leader; Russia needs him".

Mr Mubarak himself has served back-to-back terms since 1981.

The Egyptian president is the first leader of a major country to call for Mr Putin to remain in power.

Nuclear revival

After the talks, Boris Alyoshin, the head of the Russian Federal State Agency for Industries, said: "Egypt has made a decision to transfer to nuclear energy and build four stations.

"It is beyond doubt that we will take part in the tender and I think we have good chances of winning."

Mr Mubarak has recently proposed reviving Egypt's nuclear energy programme, which was abandoned after the Chernobyl disaster 20 years ago.

Mr Alyoshin also said Egypt had promised tax incentives for Russian companies to invest in the country.

Mr Putin praised Egypt's role as a key regional power and said it could be a very useful member of the Quartet, which currently includes the EU, UN, Russia and the US.

He said Cairo could play "a vital role in establishing contacts between Palestine and Israel and in bringing much-needed accord to Palestinian ranks."

The two countries enjoyed close ties until the 1970s, when Egypt turned to America as its strategic foreign partner.

But Egypt has begun to look back to Russia for new weapons - something that will not impress its traditional supplier, the United States, our correspondent says.

Mr Mubarak will go on to visit Kazakhstan and China, to try to boost Egypt's relations there too.


SEE ALSO
Mubarak's quarter of a century
13 Oct 06 |  Middle East
When the BBC met Mr Putin
07 Jul 06 |  Europe
Putin's hold on the Russians
30 Jun 06 |  Europe
Egypt's Mubarak is sworn in again
27 Sep 05 |  Middle East
Country profile: Egypt
31 Aug 06 |  Country profiles
Country profile: Russia
08 Oct 06 |  Country profiles

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