Macron hosts Egypt’s al-Sisi in Paris for talks on security and defence
French President Emmanuel Macron met with Egyptian counterpart Abdel Fattah al-Sisi in Paris on Friday for their latest talks aimed at strengthening a relationship based on security and defense ties that has left activists in trouble.
Macron received the Egyptian strongman at the Elysee Palace days after receiving UAE leader Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al-Nahyan, himself a close ally of the secular government of Sisi.
With growing concern about the effects of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine on global food supplies, the pair discussed ways to address the “economic, energy and global food security implications of this conflict,” the Elysee said in a statement.
Egypt will host the COP 27 climate summit in Sharm El-Sheikh in November and Macron and Sisi also discussed the fight against global warming.
“The two presidents have taken stock of the main issues of bilateral cooperation, which are very close in all areas,” it added.
Last year, the Egyptian military ordered 30 more Rafale jets from French defense company Dassault Aviation in a multi-billion dollar defense deal, confirmed by France.
Macron has placed great emphasis on relations with Egypt during his reign, and during a state visit in December 2020, he presented Sisi with France’s highest award, the Grand Cross of the Legion of Honour, in a move that left human rights activists stunned.
Activists have long expressed unease about Sisi’s visits, saying France should do more to voice its concern about the estimated 60,000 political prisoners languishing in Egyptian prisons.
In a nod to these concerns, the Elysee statement said: “As part of the confidence dialogue between France and Egypt, they have also raised the issue of human rights.”
Particular concern has been raised over the case of dissident Egyptian activist Alaa Abdel Fattah, who has been on a hunger strike for more than 100 days after being sentenced to five years in prison in December.
Press freedom group Reporters Without Borders (RSF) had urged Macron “not to ignore the fate of Alaa Abdel Fattah…and of all detained journalists” ahead of the talks.
France had made pledges on Monday for new energy supplies from the United Arab Emirates after talks between Macron and Sheikh Mohamed, better known as MBZ.