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Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 20 June 2018

Egypt and France to discuss Rafale fighter jet sale

Cairo may take more of the planes amid president Al Sisi's visit to Paris

A Rafale fighter. Egypt may opt to take more of the jets. AFP
A Rafale fighter. Egypt may opt to take more of the jets. AFP

France will discuss the possible sale of more Rafale jet fighters with the Egyptian leader Abdel Fattah Al Sisi during his visit to Paris this week, said the finance minister Bruno Le Maire on Tuesday.

Under the previous government, France had concluded several major military agreements with Egypt, including the sale of 24 Rafale combat aircraft, a multi-mission frigate and two Mistral warships in contracts worth some €6 billion (Dh25.91bn).

The 2015 Rafale contract - the first export contract for the jet - included the option of selling another 12 aircraft.

"If there can be new contracts, so much the better. That will be discussed today by the president [of France, Emmanuel Macron] and the president [of Egypt, Mr Sisi]," said Mr Le Maire, when asked to comment on reports that the sale of the extra 12 jets was on the table but that his ministry was reluctant because of the payment terms asked for by Egypt.

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"It is normal that Bercy [the French finance ministry] would want to make sure Egypt should be able to pay its plane orders," Mr Le Maire said.

"As far as human rights are concerned, of course we'll discuss that. I have no doubt that [Mr Macron] will mention the issue of human rights when he has lunch with his Egyptian counterpart," added Mr Le Maire.

The Rafale-maker Dassault Aviation declined to comment.

France and Egypt have nurtured closer economic and military ties in recent years, and with Mr Al Sisi's rise to power that relationship has improved with both sides concerned by the political vacuum in Libya and the threat from terror groups in Egypt.