Egypt is one of the leading trade and economic partners of Russia in the Middle East. Such a statement was made Thursday by Russian Foreign Ministry official spokesman Alexander Yakovenko in a RIA Novosti interview he gave in connection with the forthcoming visit by Egyptian foreign minister Ahmed Maher to Russia on May 16th-17th. According to him, Moscow attaches great importance to strengthening friendly relations with Egypt, one of Russia's leading partners in the Arab and Muslim world. The diplomat noted, "our political dialogue acquired a saturated and versatile character of late." The official visit by President Hosni Mubarak of Egypt to Moscow in April 2001 became a major event in bilateral relations. According to Yakovenko, a sustained development is currently observed in trade and economic cooperation between the two countries. Thus, in 2001 the mutual trade volume amounted to USD 400 million. Russian organisations also take an active part in modernisation of enterprises constructed earlier with the help of this country. The official spokesman for the Russian Foreign Ministry noted that the participation of Egyptian private capital in the production and promotion to the market of Russian TU-204 aircraft became a new sphere of business interaction. Egyptian business circles allocated USD 200 million for these purposes. The diplomat also reported that draft documents on cooperation in such areas as peaceful use of nuclear energy, research and peaceful use of space, health care, medical science and pharmaceutics are currently being developed.