Egypt’s El-Sisi thanks Hollande in person for warship deal

File Photo: French President Francois Hollande and Egyptian President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi at a meeting at the Elysee Palace in Paris, November 26, 2014 (Photo: Reuters)

File Photo: French President Francois Hollande and Egyptian President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi at a meeting at the Elysee Palace in Paris, November 26, 2014 (Photo: Reuters)

The two presidents met in New York after a UN General Assembly and discussed regional issues and military deals

Egyptian president Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi met with his French counterpart Francois Hollande after the United Nations General Assembly Summit in New York on Monday.

El-Sisi thanked Hollande for facilitating a deal that sees Egypt buy two Mistral aircraft carriers from France, according to an Egyptian presidency statement reported by state-owned news organisation MENA.

It is the second such deal between the countries of the year, after Egypt became the first buyer of the Rafale fighter jet, agreeing in February to purchase 24 of them from France.

The French presidency announced on Wednesday that they would sell Egypt the two Mistrals, which they were set to sell to Russia before pulling out in protest against Moscow’s intervention in Ukraine.

The ships will cost Egypt an estimated $1 billion (€950 million), some $280 million (€250 million) less than the $1.34 billion that Russia was ready to pay.

The two leaders discussed a number of regional and international issues including the Syrian conflict, the Libyan crisis and the torrid situation in Yemen.

The French president expressed during the meeting his country’s desire to achieve stability and peace in the Middle East.

Hollande stressed the urgent need to resolve the Palestine-Israel problem, highlighting French efforts to help reach a settlement that would accomplish peace and prevent a power vacuum that terrorist organisations could exploit.

El-Sisi stressed that a comprehensive solution to the issue would include a declaration of a Palestinian state according to the 4 June 1967 borders, with East Jerusalem as its capital.

In Libya a legitimate united government must swiftly be formed to facilitate international cooperation, the presidents agreed.

El-Sisi called for a political solution in Syria that protects Syrian sovereignty and its people. He also stressed the importance of finding a rapid solution to the Syrian refugee crisis.

Last Wednesday, Francois Hollande  called for a fresh Syria peace conference as part of efforts to end a conflict which has claimed some 250,000 lives and destabilised the region.

France announced this week it has carried out its first air strikes against the ISIS in Syria following nearly three weeks of surveillance flights.

France and its western allies including the USA insist incumbent Syrian president Bashar Al-Assad must leave office as part of any solution, while Egypt has been advocating a political solution that could allow Assad and his regime to stay, at least until a new president is elected.

El-Sisi stated in an interview with CNN on Monday that he fears that “if president Bashar Al-Assad and the Syrian Arab Army fall, the radical groups will be given a huge push,” and claimed that the situation between Assad and his opposition can be dealt with.

Egpyt’s El-Sisi attended the 70th UN General Assembly in New York on Monday where he gave a speech addressing topics including developments in the political and economic situation of Egypt, and Cairo’s position on regional issues.

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