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Putin lifts ban on charter flights to Egypt six years after crash

MOSCOW, July 8 (Reuters) – President Vladimir Putin scrapped Russia’s ban on charter flights to Egypt on Thursday, six years after suspending them for national security seasons in the aftermath of a plane crash.

The flights were stopped after a Metrojet plane taking Russian holidaymakers back from Sharm el-Sheikh to St Petersburg broke up over the Sinai Peninsula in October 2015, killing 224 people.

Russia concluded the plane was destroyed by a bomb. A group affiliated with Islamic State militants claimed responsibility.

Putin’s decree lifting the ban will be a boon for Egypt’s year-round resorts in Sharm al-Sheikh and Hurghada which attracted large numbers of Russians in the past.

Egypt later on Thursday welcomed the decision in a foreign ministry statement saying that it looks forward to the quick return of Russian tourists.

Russia and Egypt agreed to resume all flights in a call in April between Putin and Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, Egypt’s presidency said at the time.

Reporting by Andrey Ostroukh and Nadine Awadalla in Cairo, Writing by Tom Balmforth Editing by Peter Graff, Andrew Heavens and Jonathan Oatis

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