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French defence minister visits Cairo after warplane deal

French Defence Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian began a two-day visit to Cairo Saturday, just days after France delivered the first batch of 24 Rafale warplanes Egypt bought in a multi-billion-euro deal.



Cairo: French Defence Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian began a two-day visit to Cairo Saturday, just days after France delivered the first batch of 24 Rafale warplanes Egypt bought in a multi-billion-euro deal.

Le Drian, who is on a tour of Africa, is to hold talks with Egypt`s President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi and other Egyptian officials during his trip.

The visit comes after Egypt took delivery of three of 24 Rafale fighter jets it bought from France in a 5.2-billion-euro ($5.6-billion) deal.

Egypt bought the jets to boost its military capability in the face of an unstable Libya to the west and the threat posed by the Islamic State group in the Sinai Peninsula.

The deal also includes contracts for missiles and for a frigate from naval group DCNS.

"The minister will discuss the deliveries of hardware" to Egypt following the Rafale deal, a French official said ahead of Le Drian`s visit.

Le Drian met with his counterpart Sedki Sobhi, and will hold talks with Sisi and other Egyptian officials which are expected to discuss the conflict in Libya, officials said.

Since the fall of dictator Moamer Kadhafi`s regime in 2011, Libya is in chaos, with two rival governments vying for power and jihadists taking advantage of the situation to gain ground.

In February Egypt carried out air strikes inside Libya targeting IS jihadists after the group released a video showing the beheading of 21 Coptic Christians, all but one of them Egyptians, on a beach in Libya.

Since the airstrikes Sisi has pushed for a joint Arab military force to fight jihadists in the region.

In May Egypt hosted a four-day meeting of Libyan tribal leaders to explore ways of uniting warring parties and bring peace to its oil-rich neighbour.

From Zee News

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