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Egypt and the Soviet Union Agree in Principle to Exchange Envoys

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Signs of an improvement in Egyptian-Soviet relations, strained for more than a decade, are emerging with the announcement that the two countries have agreed in principle to exchange Ambassadors after a three-year break.

Foreign Minister Kamal Hassan Ali of Egypt was reported by Egypt’s official news agency as saying last Thursday, “The principle of exchanging Ambassadors is agreed on. It is likely that Ambassadors may be exchanged in the future without affecting Egypt’s special relations with Washington.”

Hassan Ali made this statement during the visit to Cairo by senior Soviet envoy Vladimir Polyakov, head of the Middle East department in the Soviet Foreign Ministry. Polyakov, Moscow’s last Ambassador to Egypt, was expelled with six members of his diplomatic staff in 1981 by then President Anwar Sadat, who accused the Soviet Union of sparking sectarian strife. In 1972, Sadat ordered most of the 20,000 Soviet military advisers and personnel to leave Egypt.

Commenting on Polyakov’s visit last week, Egypt’s Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, Boutros Ghali, described the talks with the Soviet envoy as positive and said they reflected the two countries’ will to work together.

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