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Diplomat Says Egypt, Soviets to Sign Trade Agreement

March 16, 1987

CAIRO, Egypt (AP) _ A senior diplomat said Sunday that Egypt and the Soviet Union are expected to sign a long-term trade agreement this week that would allow trade between the two countries to double by 1992.

Salah Bassiouny, Egypt’s ambassador to Moscow, spoke to reporters after meeting with President Hosni Mubarak and the delegation representing Egypt at the talks.

He said Finance and Economy Minister Yousri Mustafa would depart Tuesday for Moscow for talks begining the next day.

″This round of talks will include a final agreement on resolving the pending financial problems and changing the terms of trade and economic cooperation,″ Bassiouny said.

″This agreement includes setting a new exchange rate to be used in trade dealings ... and signing a long term economic protocol between the two countries which will allow for the trade between the two countries to double within the next five years,″ he said without elaborating.

Current trade totals about $900 million anually, divided equally between Egypt and the Soviet Union.

The semi-official newspaper Al-Ahram said the two sides would discuss a settlement on payment of the money Egypt owes Moscow for military hardware that would drop the 2 percent interest rate. The amount owed was not made public, but it is generally estimated at about $2.5 billion.

Egypt stopped paying military debts to the Soviets 10 years ago. It switched from Soviet to Western weapons, mainly American, after the 1973 Arab- Israeli war.

The last round of economic talks between the two nations ended in Cairo in December without agreement on several issues, including the rescheduling of Egypt’s civil and military debts and the exchange rate to be used in trading.

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