Francois Hollande set to sign new arms deal in Cairo

French president meets Egypt’s leader to boost military ties between the two countries.

French President Francois Hollande has met his Egyptian counterpart Abdel Fattah el-Sisi in Cairo to boost military ties.

The leaders are set to sign an arms deal worth more than $1bn following months of negotiations. 

Sisi said on Sunday the “cooperation between the two countries in all international fields” needs to be expanded, including on transportation, renewable energy and “terrorist” threats. 

As part of its deal with France, Egypt will receive fighter aircraft and navy vessels. In the past two years, the Egyptian government has spent billions of dollars on French weapons and other hardware as part of efforts to bolster its military.

Hollande said the two countries needed to boost ties “in the political field, in the economic and cultural fields, and even the … tourism field”. 

The French president said he and Sisi had discussed security issues in the Middle East and North Africa, including in Libya, Syria, Lebanon and Yemen, as well as Israel and the occupied Palestinian territories. 

“We cannot hide the fact that the situation in the Middle East is serious and that terrorism has deep roots,” he said. “We must fight with determination … and that’s why we have signed security agreements for the region between France and Egypt.” 

‘Military boost’

Christian Makarian, a leading French journalist, said what Sisi wants first and foremost from France is “international legitimacy”.

“Secondly, he wants military help and France is in a very good position to supply aircraft and ships,” Makarian told Al Jazeera. 

Following the 2013 ousting of former president Mohamed Morsi, the US temporarily froze Egypt’s military aid, forcing the government to turn to Russia, Germany and France.

In 2014, bilateral trade between Cairo and Paris was worth more than $1.4bn. The following year, that figure grew more than 10 percent, exceeding $1.6bn.

Sisi also called for the international community to revamp negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians, as well as urging the world to help confront armed groups in Libya, Syria and Iraq.  

Source: Al Jazeera