CAIRO — In an echo of the Cold War, Egypt gave the red carpet welcome Thursday to senior Russian officials aiming to expand Moscow's influence through military and economic cooperation with a key U.S. ally in the Middle East.
The flirtation underscores how U.S.-Egyptian relations have soured lately over the Obama administration's criticism of the July 3 military coup. And although Egyptian officials say the onetime Soviet client is not turning away from the United States, the military-backed government is clearly signaling it has options.
Egypt's Foreign Minister Nabil Fahmy sought to downplay speculation of a major foreign policy shift, describing the visit by Russian's foreign and defense ministers as an "activation" of existing ties and speaking positively of cooperation between the two countries "in multiple fields."
But the fact that the visit by Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and Defense Minister Sergei Shogiu came weeks after the United States froze millions of dollars in military aid is significant.
Tensions are high between Egypt and the United States — its chief foreign backer and benefactor since the 1970s, since the ouster of Morsi, Egypt's first freely elected president, and the subsequent crackdown on his Islamist supporters that has left hundreds dead and thousands arrested.
Morsi moved to solitary confinement: Authorities moved Egypt's ousted president from a hospital room to solitary confinement in a massive prison complex Thursday, a security official said.
Mohammed Morsi, 62, was hospitalized 10 days at Borg al-Arab prison, near Alexandria, after he complained of high blood pressure and high blood sugar following his first court appearance Nov. 4.
Morsi faces charges of inciting violence and murder in the killing of protesters outside of the presidential palace in December.