World Bulletin / News Desk
Egypt on Saturday signed a deal with France for the purchase of two Mistral helicopter carriers originally designed for Russia.
The deal was inked at a conference in Cairo attended by Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah al-Sisi, French Prime Minister Manuel Valls and the latter’s Egyptian counterpart, Sherif Ismail.
The two carriers are each capable of carrying 16 helicopters, four landing craft and 13 tanks.
Egypt is expected to receive both vessels in March.
The deal was first announced last month by French President Francois Hollande.
The two vessels were originally ordered by Russia in 2011 in a €1.2-billion ($1.4 billion) purchase agreement.
France cancelled the deal in 2014, however, over Russia’s role in the Ukraine crisis.
The Mistral deal is the latest sign of rapprochement between Cairo and Paris since al-Sisi, a former army chief, came to power in 2014 following the ouster one year earlier of Mohamed Morsi -- the country’s first democratically president -- by the army.
In February of this year, Egypt bought 22 Rafael fighter jets from France, becoming the first foreign purchaser of the French warplane.
Egypt also signed a $3.5-billion arms deal with Russia last year during a visit by al-Sisi to Russia.
Egypt has sought to upgrade its military capacities after almost five years of political turmoil that has engulfed the country since a popular uprising forced autocratic President Hosni Mubarak to step down in 2011 following 30 years in power.
The country is also currently fighting a violent insurgency in the Sinai Peninsula, where militants -- said to be allied with the ISIL militant group -- stage frequent attacks on security personnel.Last Mod: 11 Ekim 2015, 17:42