Cairo: Egyptian President Abdel Fatah Sisi on Wednesday admitted that a Russian passenger plane was downed by terrorists to harm the country's tourism industry and its ties with Russia, months after he dismissed ISIS' claims that the terror group hit the jet killing all 224 people aboard.
"Has terrorism ended? No it has not, but it will if we unite. Did the person behind the plane crash aim to hit just the (Egyptian) tourism industry? No, the intention was to harm relations with Russia, Italy and all other countries," Sisi said in in a speech shown live on television.
This was the first time that Sisi confirmed that the Russian-operated Airbus A321 had been brought down by terrorists.
Sisi had earlier dismissed as "propaganda" a claim by the ISIS that it targeted the Russian plane on October 31, which crashed in the Sinai Peninsula, killing all 224 people aboard.
"When there is propaganda that (the Russian plane) crashed because of (Islamic State", this is one way to damage the stability and security of Egypt and the image of Egypt," he had told British media before his visit to the UK.
After the crash, Russian flights to Egypt were suspended on November 6 and then on November 14 flights of Egypt Air to Russia were also suspended.