Russia says air link with Egypt will be restored soon

MOSCOW (AP) — Russia and Egypt are completing preparations for restoring the air link between them that was cut by Moscow after the downing of a Russian passenger jet, the nations’ top diplomats said Wednesday.

The Russian plane crashed in Sinai on Oct. 31, killing all 224 people on board. Moscow said it was brought down by an explosive device, and a local branch of the extremist Islamic State group has claimed responsibility for planting it.  

The crash and Russia’s decision to halt direct flights to Egypt has dealt a severe blow to Egypt’s vital tourism sector. Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov hailed the Egyptian authorities for working closely with Russian experts and accepting their advice on boosting airport security. He said Russian and Egyptian experts are finalizing provisions for the resumption of direct flights.

“We have agreed to take steps to speed up that process as much as possible,” Lavrov said, without mentioning a specific date. “Egypt looks at this decision as an important indication of the strength of the relationship and understanding by the Russian Federation of Egypt’s economic needs, and the symbolism associated to the presence of Russian tourism that has been awarded at all time with necessary receptivity and friendship,” said Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry.

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