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Egypt's Shoukry holds talks with Lavrov in Russia, a day after meeting Blinken

Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry delivered a message from the United States to his Russian counterpart, Sergey Lavrov, on Russia's war in Ukraine, according to an Egyptian media report.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov (R) shakes hands with his Egyptian counterpart, Sameh Shoukry.

Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry met his Russian counterpart, Sergey Lavrov, in Moscow on Tuesday, hours after holding lengthy talks with US Secretary of State Antony Blinken in Cairo.

The two top diplomats discussed Russia's war in Ukraine, bilateral relations, and Shoukry reportedly delivered a message from Washington to the Kremlin. 

Lavrov began the meeting by praising Egypt’s foreign policy, describing it as balanced. 

“Let me emphasize that we have always appreciated Egypt's traditionally responsible and balanced position on various regional and international problems,” said Lavrov at the start of his meeting with Shoukry, according to a release from the Russian Foreign Ministry.

The Egyptian state-owned news outlet Al-Ahram reported that Shoukry delivered a message to Lavrov from Blinken. The message appears to be in reference urging a halt to Russia's offensive in Ukraine.

“Russia should stop these actions in order for negotiations to succeed,” was the message, according to Al-Ahram.  

A State Department spokesperson told Al-Monitor that Blinken has had a consistent message that Russia should stop the war in Ukraine and remove its forces from the country for the sake of peace. The message he gave to Shoukry did not differ from this, according to the spokesperson. 

Lavrov described the proposal as "incomplete." Lavrov also praised Egypt’s “balanced” approach to the war in Ukraine. Lavrov further said Russia would continue to engage with Egypt on the Ukraine issue, Al-Ahram reported, citing the press conference. 

"We will stay in touch. And I trust that this will be in the interest of the friendship between the two countries," said Lavrov. 

Shoukry and Lavrov also discussed bilateral cooperation. Lavrov hailed military cooperation between Egypt and Russia, pointing to the naval drill and military-technical cooperation committee meeting they held in December, Russia’s official TASS news agency reported. 

During the press conference, Shoukry also called for more economic cooperation with Russia and said Egypt expects Russia to continue sending grain to Egypt. The diplomat added that Egypt and Russia are planning to use their own currencies for trade, according to TASS. 

Why it matters: Shoukry's visit came a day after Blinken visited Egypt. Blinked pushed for Egypt to make “progress” on various human rights issues during his trip, Al-Monitor correspondent Elizabeth Hagedorn reported from Cairo. 

Shoukry’s comments on Russian wheat imports are notable. Russia and Ukraine provided Egypt with 80% of its grain before the war. The conflict disrupted Egypt’s grain imports. Egypt has since resumed buying grain from Ukraine and Russia. 

Shoukry's remarks on trade are similarly noteworthy. Russia is seeking to trade more in rubles and other currencies in an effort to reduce its use of the US dollar. Last year, Iran said that they started trading with Russia in rubles and rials. 

The US government is growing increasingly concerned with Egypt's close relationship with Russia, according to a June report from the DC-based Atlantic Council. 

Know more: Al-Ahram also reported Tuesday that Egypt signed an agreement with the Russian railway company Transmash to build a train maintenance facility in the Abu Zabal industrial area north of Cairo. 

Editor's note: this article was updated to include comment from the US State Department. 

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