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Russia greets Egypt's el-Sissi with display of weapons for sale ahead of meeting with Putin

Russian President Vladimir Putin, right, and Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi, second left, listen to a translator during a meeting in the Russian Black Sea resort of Sochi, Russia, Tuesday, Aug. 12, 2014. El-Sissi is on his first visit to Russia. (AP Photo/RIA Novosti, Alexei Druzhinin, Presidential Press Service)

MOSCOW – Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi arrived in Russia on Tuesday for his first official visit as president and was immediately shown a selection of Russian military hardware for sale.

Russia, through expanded military and economic co-operation, has been seeking greater influence with Egypt, an important U.S. ally in the Middle East.

The military hardware, including new armoured vehicles and missile systems, was put on display at the airport in Sochi for el-Sissi, the former Egyptian army chief, to inspect upon his arrival, Russian news agencies reported. He “listened attentively” to explanations of the weapons systems’ potential, the reports said.

He then headed for a meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin in the mountains above Sochi, the site of the 2014 Winter Olympics. Before sitting down for talks, Putin showed his Egyptian guest a cross-country ski centre built for games.

El-Sissi, who was elected president in May, ousted Egypt’s democratically elected Islamist president a year ago and then led a violent crackdown that killed hundreds of protesters.

New-York based Human Rights Watch on Tuesday called for an international inquiry into the mass killings and urged Egypt’s allies to suspend military aid and co-operation until the Egyptian government adopts measures to end human rights violations. Egypt’s government rejected the report.

The United States partially suspended military aid to Egypt following last year’s military coup. Within weeks, Russia’s foreign minister and defence minister had both paid a visit to Cairo.