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Direct flights between Russia and Egypt are expected to resume in February, Russian Transport Minister Maxim Sokolov said on Friday.

 

Russia banned flights to Egypt in October 2015 after a Russian passenger plane crashed in the restive Sinai Peninsula, killing all 224 people on board.

 

The extremist militia Islamic State claimed responsibility for downing the plane. Russia’s ban has crippled Egypt’s ailing tourism industry, a main source of national income.

 

While Cairo’s international airport completely complies with Russian safety requirements, airports in the resort cities of Sharm El Sheikh and Hurghada still do not, Sokolov said in comments carried by state media.

 

The two resorts have borne the brunt of the Russian ban, according to Egyptian media.

Russia and Egypt were expected on Friday to sign an air safety agreement that would pave the way for the resumption of flights.

 

Egyptian Aviation, Minister Fathi, is currently in Moscow to sign the deal.

 

Cairo-based newspaper al-Masry al-Youm, citing unnamed officials at the Egyptian Aviation Ministry, reported on Friday that national carrier Egyptair and Russian state airline Aeroflot have started scheduling direct flights between the two countries for February.

 

Egyptian security agencies have conducted a final revision of the security agreement draft between both countries, the officials said, according to the paper.

 

“Articles and terms of the protocol do not violate Egypt’s national sovereignty,” one official said without elaborating.

 

In a sign of strengthening political ties, President Vladimir Putin was in Cairo on Monday for talks with his Egyptian counterpart Abdel-Fattah al-Sissi.

 

During Putin’s visit, the two countries signed a deal for Russia to begin construction of Egypt’s first nuclear power plant.

 

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