World Bulletin/News Desk
French President Francois Hollande has signed military cooperation with Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi in Paris despite rights groups' opposition to the move because of al-Sisi's "alarming" record of human rights abuses.
The agreements on Wednesday included a €1 billion ($1.24 billion) contract to furnish four Gowind battleships to the Egyptian Navy and the renewal of Egypt’s stock of French-built Mirage 2000 fighter jets.
Amnesty International has previously called on France to suspend all transfers of arms to Egypt in view of the "alarming" human rights abuses being carried out in the country.
New York-based Human Rights Watch (HRW) has accused Sisi's regime of carrying out the "systematic" murder of more than 1,000 supporters of ousted president Mohamed Morsi, Egypt's first democratically elected leader, who was ousted by the military in July 2013 after only one year in office.
But Hollande told a joint press conference with Sisi after signing the arms agreements: "Egypt's economy needs the contribution of the international institutions and France will participate by collecting money and efforts to help."
He said an economic committee will meet in France next March to discuss ways of helping the struggling Egyptian economy.
Hollande added: "Egypt is in a war against terrorism in Sinai (north-east of Egypt) which imposes on everyone to work together to combat it, which could threaten the rest of the neighboring countries."
He vowed France would be "a partner" for Egypt in a number of areas and expressed his country's hope that "the process of democratic transition in Egypt will continue in accordance with the road map".
He also revealed the pair had signed agreements on developing the Suez Canal, adding he would visit Egypt next year, without mentioning a specific date.
The Suez deal is worth around €700 million and includes a €300 million deal to refurbish of the subway system in Egypt's capital, Cairo.
Meanwhile, Sisi said both leaders had agreed on the need to "make all possible efforts from all sides to work to resolve the issue and for peace process between Palestinians and Israelis to resume".
He said the existence of a Palestinian state would give "hope for both Palestinians and the Israelis".
Sisi, who is on his first European tour since he took office earlier this year, also held discussions with Defense Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian and met Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius.
New York-based Human Rights Watch (HRW) has previously accused Sisi's regime of carrying out the "systematic" murder of more than 1,000 supporters of ousted president Mohamed Morsi, Egypt's first democratically elected leader, who was ousted by the military in July 2013 after only one year in office.
In a report released in August after a year-long investigation, it concluded that the killings by Egyptian security forces probably constituted "crimes against humanity".
Different human rights NGOs had also hoped Hollande would raise the plight of political opponents and journalists imprisoned by the Egyptian authorities, including Al-Jazeera journalists sentenced to several years in prison.
Canadian-Egyptian Mohamed Fahmy, Australian national Peter Greste and Egyptian Baher Mohamed have been imprisoned in Egypt for 333 days after being found guilty of aiding the outlawed Muslim Brotherhood, which they continue to deny.
The journalists have repeatedly said that they are being punished for doing their jobs.
France is the second stop on Sisi’s European trip which started this week in Rome.Last Mod: 26 Kasım 2014, 23:20