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Russia to build Egypt’s first nuclear power plant

Sergey Kiriyenko (L), the head of Russia’s Rosatom State Atomic Energy Corporation, and Mohamed Shaker el-Markabi, the Egyptian electricity and renewable energy minister, sign an agreement to build Egypt's first nuclear power plant as Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi (C) looks on at the presidential palace in Cairo on November 19, 2015 ©AFP

Russia has signed two agreements with Egypt to finance and build the North African country's first nuclear power plant in a televised ceremony attended by the Egyptian president.

The deals were signed between Egyptian Electricity and Renewable Energy Minister Mohamed Shaker el-Markabi, and Sergey Kiriyenko, the head of Russia’s Rosatom State Atomic Energy Corporation, in the Egyptian capital, Cairo, on Thursday.

The plant, which is to house four 1,200-megawatt nuclear reactors, is to be based in northwestern Egypt on the Mediterranean coast.

"For a long time, Egypt has dreamt of having a peaceful nuclear program for the production of electricity," Egypt’s President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi said of the project.

In February, Rosatom and Egypt's Ministry of Electricity and Renewable Energy signed an accord on the development of a nuclear plant in the North African country during a meeting between Sisi and his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin in Cairo.

"This is comprehensive cooperation. Moreover, it presumes that Russia will also provide relevant financial support in the form of an intergovernmental loan," Kiriyenko said at the time.

While the first deal signed on Thursday commits Russia to building the plant, the second one stipulates that Moscow will grant a 35-year loan to Egypt for the construction of the facility.

The agreement, which came three weeks after what is widely believed to have been a Daesh bomb that downed a Russian airliner over Egypt's Sinai Peninsula, killing all 224 on board, "carries a message on the weight or relations between us and Russia," Sisi said during the signing ceremony. The Takfiri terrorist group, which is wreaking havoc mainly in Iraq and Syria, has claimed responsibility for the bombing and has released a photo that shows an improvised bomb it alleges to have used to down the aircraft.

Russia is one of the main non-Arab supporters of Sisi’s government and was among the first countries to endorse Sisi’s presidential bid in 2014.

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