Top Russian Officials in Egypt for Arms Deal

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JERUSALEM, Israel -- Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu arrived in Egypt Wednesday for two days of talks on the largest arms deal between the two nations since the early 70s.

The renewed ties follow cutbacks in U.S. military aid last month, precipitated by the crackdown on the Muslim Brotherhood following the ouster of Islamist President Mohammed Morsi in early July.  The U.S. cut $260 million in military aid that included F-16s, military helicopters and tanks.

According to a report in the National Post, Egypt is interested in purchasing a fleet of MiG-29 jet fighters, short- and long-range air defense systems and anti-tank missiles, among other weaponry in the potential $22 billion deal.

The Post quoted Egyptian Foreign Ministry spokesman Badr Abdelatty saying the visit by Russia's top diplomats is evidence of Russia's desire "to bolster relations and cooperate with Egypt in all fields," adding that it did not represent "substituting one party with another but rather diversifying the alternatives and choices."

To close the massive arms deal, Egypt will need funding assistance from the Gulf states.

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