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Russia's Putin arrives in Cairo for talks with Egyptian leader

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Last year Mr Sisi visited Russia to negotiate huge arms dealsLast year Mr Sisi visited Russia to negotiate huge arms dealsRussian President Vladimir Putin has begun a two-day visit to Egypt, as both sides aim to boost bilateral ties and discuss major regional security issues.

Ahead of his trip, he described Egypt as Russia's "old and trusted partner".

Mr Putin is seen as a key backer of Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, who has been criticised by the West over his crackdown on dissent.

Mr Sisi, the former army chief, was elected president after previous leader Mohamed Morsi was ousted in 2013.

Hundreds of supporters of the former Islamist president have died in clashes with police and security services.

'Dynamic' relations

Mr Putin landed arrived in Cairo late on Monday. He was greeted by President Sisi.

The two leaders attended a cultural show at Cairo's opera house on Monday, with formal talks due on Tuesday morning.

In an interview with Egypt's state-run al-Ahram newspaper, the Russian leader hailed "dynamic" bilateral relations, saying that trade increased by almost 50% in 2014 compared with the year before.

Mr Putin also suggested the two countries would discuss ending the use of the US dollar in bilateral trade, switching to national currencies instead.

The two presidents are also expected to hold talks on the ongoing conflicts in Syria and Iraq, as well as the Israeli-Palestinian issue.

Mr Putin's visit comes amid a growing crisis in eastern Ukraine, as diplomats try to reach a peace deal to end the fighting between government troops and pro-Russian rebels that has left nearly 5,400 dead.

Russia is accused by Ukraine and the West of sending its troops across the border and arming the separatists - a claim denied by Moscow.

February 10 2015, 12:15

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