SKorea says it has signed $1.6 billion arms deal with Egypt

February 1, 2022 GMT

CAIRO (AP) — South Korea on Tuesday said it signed a $1.6 billion arms deal with Egypt a week after President Joe Biden’s administration approved another massive arms sale to the Middle Eastern nation.

The office of President Moon Jae-in in Seoul said the deal to provide K9 self-propelled howitzers to Egypt is the country’s biggest export contract for the weapon. It is manufactured by Hanwha Defense.

Moon’s office did not provide further details on the deal, including how many of the howitzers Egypt will acquire. There was no immediate comment from Egypt.

Tuesday’s announcement came two weeks after Egyptian leader Abdel Fattah el-Sissi met with Moon in Cairo. It was the first visit by a South Korean president to Egypt in 16 years, according to the state-run al-Ahram daily.

Egyptian Defense Minister Gen. Mohamed Zaki was in South Korea on Tuesday to attend the signing ceremony, Egypt’s military said in a statement. It said the deal included the local production and transfer of the artillery system to Egypt.

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The Egyptian military also said the two countries signed two memorandums of understanding on mutual military cooperation.

El-Sissi also met with Hanwha Defense CEO Kim Seung Mo in Cairo in November when Egypt organized its second international weapons fair.

Last week, the Department of State announced a $2.5 billion arms sale to Egypt. That deal included 12 Super Hercules C-130 transport aircraft and related equipment worth $2.2 billion and air defense radar systems worth an estimated $355 million.

Egypt, one of the world’s leading arms importers, has in recent years upgraded its military, striking massive arms deals with Western nations and Russia. It has built new military bases and expanded its naval and air power to help secure the country’s vast desert and sea borders, especially after the discovery of significant gas deposits in its Mediterranean waters.

Such deals have drawn criticism from rights activist who accuse the Egyptian government of carrying out a wide-scale crackdown on dissent.

The Biden administration said last week it canceled $130 million in military aid to Egypt over human rights concerns.