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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Egyptian Atomic Deal Sought

Russia will use a three-day visit by Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak to Moscow that began Wednesday to pitch for lucrative contracts to help Egypt launch an atomic energy program.

Mubarak is to meet President Vladimir Putin on Thursday. Talks are expected to focus on trade links, Russian arms sales and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Egypt has ordered studies into building nuclear power stations after Mubarak said in September that nuclear energy was a cheap and clean energy source and called for a national dialogue on the issue.

The Federal Atomic Energy Agency said it was having preliminary discussions with Egypt.

Asked about the possibility of an Egyptian nuclear program, Security Council Secretary Igor Ivanov said late Tuesday: "Of course we have an interest in this area.

"Russia has very substantial achievements [in this field] and some serious technology, especially in the field of nuclear power safety.

"I expect that Egypt will announce an international tender and that, in competitive conditions, Russia will be successful."

He brushed off concerns that a new nuclear energy power in the volatile Middle East might be dangerous, saying the nuclear option was Egypt's "sovereign right."

Egyptian Trade Minister Rachid Mohammed Rachid, on a visit to Moscow last month, said his government wanted to discuss nuclear cooperation with Russia.

An atomic agency spokesman said the Egyptian government had asked the agency's export unit, Atomstroiexport, to submit a presentation.

Atomstroiexport is building reactors in China and India as well as the Bushehr reactor in Iran. It has landed a contract to build a new nuclear plant in Bulgaria worth up to $5.1 billion.