PARIS, April 17 (UPI) — French President Francois Hollande is set to sign an arms deal with Egypt worth more than $1 billion following months of negotiations.
Hollande met his Egyptian counterpart Abdel Fattah al-Sisi in Cairo Sunday to boost military ties between the countries, Al Jazeera reported.
Sisi said the “cooperation between the two countries in all international fields” need to expand, including in the areas of transportation, renewable energy and “terrorist” threats.
Egypt will receive fighter aircraft and navy vessels from France as part of the deal. Over the past two years, the Egyptian government has spent billions on French weapons and other military hardware to boost its own forces.
Hollande wants the two countries to boost ties in the political field and in the economic and cultural fields, “and even the … tourism field,” he said.
He said he and Sisi have discussed security issues in the Middle East,which include discussions on Libya, Syria, Lebanon, Yemen and 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.”
The arms acquisitions add to a string of high-profile French weapons sales in recent months, including multi-billion-dollar deals with Egypt and Qatar, each buying 24 French Rafale fighter jets, Voice of America reported. The French are in discussions to complete another Rafale agreement with the United Arab Emirates.
These deals underscore France’s new role as a top weapons supplier to Egypt, edging out the United States and bringing in needed revenue.
It also sends a message to the United States that Egypt has diversified its arms suppliers after the U.S. suspended military aid to Egypt in 2013 following the ouster of former leader Mohamed Morsi. Egypt was forced to turn to Russia, Germany and France.
In 2014, trade between Cairo and Paris was worth more than $1.4 billion. In 2015, that figure grew more to more than $1.6 billion
Sisi also called on the international community to revamp negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians and is urging the world to help confront armed groups in Libya, Syria and Iraq.