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Tuesday, 24 October 2017

El Sisi arrives in Paris, is expected to negotiate purchase of 12 new Rafale jets

El Sisi arrives in Paris, is expected to negotiate purchase of 12 new Rafale jets: President Abdel Fattah El Sisi met with Dassault Aviation CEO Éric Trappier in Paris yesterday reportedly to discuss the purchase of 12 additional Rafale fighters and two new Gowind corvettes from Dassault, French newspaper La Tribune says. Negotiations for the new equipment reportedly began last year, but were stalled over financing issues, as France “does not wish to grant the same guarantees as two years ago.”

Egypt and France had signed a EUR 5.2 bn agreement in 2015 for 24 Rafale jets, a Fremm naval frigate, and MBDA air-to-air missiles. “In 2015, the French industry had extended loans covering 60% of the cumulative value of arms sales to Egypt (with the remaining 40% paid upfront by Egypt from its national funds). These loans were underwritten by the French government,” defense news and analysis website Quwa notes.

El Sisi also discussed strengthening military ties with French Armed Forces MinisterFlorence Parly, according to a statement. The war against terror and regional security headaches in Libya, Syria, and Iraq also featured in the discussion.

Today, the President is set to meet with his French counterpart Emmanuel Macron, with whom he will sign 17 MoUs, Ittihadiya spokesperson Alaa Youssef told the press, according to Al Ahram. In addition to bilateral ties and cooperation, the two leaders are also expected to delve into a discussion on human rights, Youssef also said, adding that there is “increasing international understanding” of Egypt’s position on the issue. France 24 says Macron — who had previously told rights groups his top priority was supporting Egypt’s anti-terror fight — is “unlikely to want to rattle Sisi too much,” despite pressure from human rights groups, since Egypt is important to French financial interests.

El Sisi briefly addressed the human rights question in an interview with France24yesterday, where he confirmed that members of the Ikhwan are being tried fairly and denied that Egypt holds political prisoners. He said a reconciliation with the group, however, would only be possible if demanded by the public. The interview also addressed ongoing economic reform, as well as regional issues, including the situation in Syria and the rift with Qatar.

You can watch the interview in full here (runtime 26:08). The president sat down for a similar interview with French newspaper Le Figaro (paywall).

Egypt’s exports to France have grown 21% so far this year to about EUR 500 mn according to Trade Minister Tarek Kabil, who is accompanying El Sisi.

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