Egypt, France to discuss region’s conflicts

France’s Prime Minister Manuel Valls and Sisi

France’s Prime Minister Manuel Valls flew into Egypt on Saturday to start a three-country Arab tour aimed at boosting economic ties and for holding talks on the region’s conflicts.

French President Francois Hollande announced last month that Egypt had agreed to buy two Mistral warships which his country built for Russia before scrapping the sale over the Ukraine crisis.

According to French government sources, Egypt is to pay 950 million euros ($1 billion) for the warships.

In February, Egypt became the first foreign buyer of France’s Rafale fighters, in a 5.2-billion-euro ($5.9 billion) deal for 24 of the multi-role combat jets and a frigate.

Apart from arms deals, Egypt has also expressed interest in extending the Cairo metro which was largely built by French companies and in satellite communications deals.

The conflict in Syria and Russia’s dramatic military intervention as well as escalating Israeli-Palestinian violence are to figure high in the French prime minister’s talks with leaders in Egypt.

On Sunday, he is also to meet with Sheikh Ahmad Al-Tayeb, the grand imam of Cairo’s Al-Azhar University.

Traveling on to Jordan, where France has deployed fighter bombers used to strike Daesh militants in Iraq and Syria, Valls is to meet on Monday with Iraqi Christian refugees in the country which has also taken in 650,000 Syrians fleeing war.


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