Russian President Vladimir Putin, left, greets Egyptian President Abdul Fattah Al Sisi, during their meeting on embankment of the Olympic Park in the Black Sea resort of Sochi, Russia, Tuesday. Image Credit: AP

Moscow: Russian President Vladimir Putin is hosting his Egyptian counterpart Abdul Fattah Al Sissi for talks focusing on boosting trade between the two nations.

Opening Wednesday’s talks in the Black Sea resort of Sochi, Putin said that bilateral trade rose by 62 per cent last year.

Al Sissi called on Russia to resume direct flights to Egyptian resorts, which Moscow suspended after a bomb planted by Daesh brought down a Russian passenger plane over Sinai in October 2015, killing all 224 people on board.

Flights between Moscow and Cairo resumed in April after Egyptian officials beefed up airport security, but talks about restoring direct air travel to Egypt’s Red Sea resorts have dragged on.

Addressing the Russian parliament’s upper house, Al Sissi emphasised that restoring flight connections was essential for Egypt’s tourism industry.

Egypt has also signed deals to buy billions of dollars’ worth of Russian weapons, including fighter jets and assault helicopters.

When Putin visited Cairo last December, officials signed a deal for Russia to build a nuclear power plant in Dabaa.

Putin’s Foreign Affairs Adviser, Yuri Ushakov, told reporters that the two presidents will discuss the implementation of the nuclear plant contract, as well as prospects for the resumption of flights to the Red Sea resorts and other issues.

He said that Al Sissi will be offered a presentation of Russian weapons, including those which Egypt has expressed interest in buying.

Al Sissi is on his fourth trip to Russia since taking office in 2014, and Putin visited Egypt in 2015 and 2017. The two leaders have developed a close personal rapport and sought to expand bilateral ties, which have strengthened considerably over the past few years.

Ushakov noted that bilateral trade rose by 62 per cent last year, reaching $6.7 billion and continued to expand at a swift pace this year. Russian grain exports currently account for about 70 per cent of Egypt’s needs, he said.

Putin and Al Sissi will discuss international issues, focusing on the situation in Syria, Libya, Yemen and the Palestinian-Israeli issue.

Following broader talks on Wednesday, the two presidents are set to sign a comprehensive strategic partnership treaty that would further boost Russian-Egyptian ties.