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Egypt leader: "Many measures" taken to improve security at air and sea ports


CAIRO — Egypt's president said Thursday that his country has taken several steps to boost security at ports of entry following the Oct. 31 crash of a Russian airliner and vowed to not stop until all security loopholes are closed.

Speaking at a ceremony marking the signing of an Egyptian-Russian accord aimed at eventually building a nuclear power plant on Egypt's Mediterranean coast, President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi said Egypt appreciated Moscow's concerns over the safety of its citizens.

Egypt, he said, is cooperating with technical committees from Russia and elsewhere to investigate the crash, which killed all 224 people on board.

"We are dealing with the issue with a profound sense of responsibility and transparency," he said. "We have taken a great many measures to revise security procedures at air and sea ports and I want to say that we will not stop until ... there is no loophole that could be a source of doubt or concern."

El-Sissi's comments, carried live on state television, were the first since Russia this week declared that the crash was caused by an explosive device, backing a claim by the Egyptian affiliate of the extremist Islamic State group that it downed the Metrojet plane.

El-Sissi made no mention of the cause of the crash.

The Russian plane, an Airbus 321-200, crashed some 23 minutes after it took off from the southern Sinai resort town of Sharm el-Sheikh. Most of the passengers were Russian citizens.

Russia later suspended all flights to Egypt, whose sunny beaches are popular with Russian tourists, and stopped Egypt's national carrier, EgyptAir, from flying to Moscow.

El-Sissi and Russian President Vladimir Putin have forged closer ties since el-Sissi's 2013 ouster of Islamist President Mohammed Morsi. El-Sissi was elected president last year.

El-Sissi said the memorandum of understanding on the nuclear project was the first step toward realizing "a very old dream that Egypt would have a peaceful nuclear program." He stressed that Egypt remains committed to the non-proliferation of nuclear weapons.

The deal envisions the development of a four-reactor power plant whose costs would be covered through electricity sales over a 35-year period. Further financial details were not disclosed.

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