Italy set to approve major arms deal to Egypt
The Italian government is set to approve a large military deal to Egypt, further signalling a thaw in relations between the two countries, according to Italian newspaper La Republica.
Early this year, Italian and Egyptian media reported that the countries were considering the deal, rumoured to be worth $9.8 billion.
The two Mediterranean powers are part of a wider anti-Turkey bloc in the region, which includes France, Greece and Israel.
Formed to combat a bilateral maritime and security deal between Ankara and the Libyan government in Tripoli, the bloc seeks to counter what it percieves as Turkey’s expanding maritime borders in the basin.
The latest arms deal is said to include two Italian FREMM frigates of the Bergamini class, as well as four others specifically made for Egypt, according to La Republica.
It also includes some 24 Eurofighter Tycoons, 24 M-346 jet trainers, as well as a military satellite.
The deal has already been endorsed by the Italian ministry of defence but is awaiting approval by the cabinet.
Relations between Cairo and Rome were temporarily strained in 2016 following the death of Italian PhD researcher Gulio Regeni, who was found dead 10 days after being reported missing in Cairo.
His corpse, located in a rubbish container of the outskirts of the city, showed signs of torture.
Italy pointed its finger at the brutal regime of Egyptian President Abdel Fatah al-Sisi and recalled its ambassador.
It accused the regime of the forceful disappearance and torture of Regini, who was studying independent trade unions when he was killed.
Egypt has seen a crackdown on all forms of dissent since Sisi's ascent to power in 2013, including journalist and researchers.
While Egypt's relations have improved with Italy over recent years, Regini's case remains unsolved.
A parliamentary inquiry in Rome continues to accuse the Egyptian government of being responsible for the murder of the 28-year-old Cambridge graduate.