Al-Sisi, who is on his first European tour since he took office earlier this year, held talks with French President François Hollande on Wednesday. He also met with Defense Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian (photo) and Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius.
On Wednesday, both sides signed military cooperation agreements despite rights groups' opposition to the move because of Al-Sisi's “alarming” record of human rights abuses.
The agreements included a €1 billion ($1.24 billion) contract to furnish four Gowind warships to the Egyptian Navy and the renewal of Egypt’s stock of French-built Mirage 2000 fighter jets.
“Egypt's economy needs the contribution of the international institutions and France will participate by collecting money and efforts to help,” Hollande told a joint press conference with Al-Sisi after signing the arms agreements
He said an economic committee will meet in France next March to discuss ways of helping the struggling Egyptian economy. “Egypt is in a war against terrorism in Sinai (north-east of Egypt) which imposes on everyone to work together to combat it, which could threaten the rest of the neighboring countries,” Hollande added
Hollande vowed France would be “a partner” for Egypt in a number of areas and expressed his country's hope that “the process of democratic transition in Egypt will continue in accordance with the road map”.
He also revealed the pair had signed agreements on developing the Suez Canal, adding he would visit Egypt next year, without mentioning a specific date.
The Suez deal is worth around €700 million and includes a €300 million deal to refurbish of the subway system in Egypt's capital, Cairo.
Meanwhile, Al-Sisi said both leaders had agreed on the need to “make all possible efforts from all sides to work to resolve the issue and for peace process between Palestinians and Israelis to resume”.
Earlier this week, Al-Sisi held closed talks with Italian President Giorgio Napolitano on Monday, followed by a larger round of talks which included the delegations of the two countries, state-run MENA reported.
The two sides discussed ways to reinforce Egyptian-Italian ties and cooperation. They also addressed regional and international issues, including the peace process in the Middle East, combating terrorism and the situations in Libya and Syria.
Ahead of the trip, Egyptian Presidential Spokesman Alaa Yousef said Italy is highly important for Egypt, specifically on the economic level. “Italy is Egypt’s number one trade partner in the European Union,” Yousef said
After Italy, Al-Sisi visited the Vatican where he met Pope Francis and Secretary of State Pietro Parolin.
An official statement said the trip to the Vatican reflects appreciation of the Pope’s position on openness to dialogue with Islam as well as his efforts to combat poverty and defend humanitarian causes, among other common goals that create room to “strengthen bi-lateral ties on the political and religious levels”.
Source: MENA; Daily News Egypt; Photo credit: KENZO TRIBOUILLARD/AFP/Getty Images