(Last Updated On: October 21, 2019)

MOSCOW (AP) — The Russian military says two of its nuclear-capable bombers will visit South Africa in what appears to be the first-ever such deployment to the African continent.

The Russian Defense Ministry said Monday that sending the Tu-160 bombers is intended to help “develop bilateral military cooperation” and reflects a “strategic partnership” with one of Africa’s most developed economies.

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The mission comes as Russian President Vladimir Putin is set to host the first-ever Russia-Africa summit this week with 43 of the continent’s 54 heads of state or government in attendance. The remaining 11 countries will be represented by foreign ministers or other officials.

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As part of efforts to expand its clout in Africa, Russia has signed military cooperation agreements with at least 28 African countries, the majority in the past five years.

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