French President Emmanuel Macron met his Egyptian counterpart Abdel Fattah al-Sisi in Paris on Friday for their final talks aimed at tightening a relationship based on security and defense ties that has troubled activists.
Macron welcomed the Egyptian strongman to the Elysee Palace days after welcoming the leader of the United Arab Emirates, Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al-Nahyan, himself a close ally of the secular Sisi administration.
With growing concern over the effects of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine on the world’s food supply, the pair discussed ways to deal with the “economic, energy and global food security consequences of this conflict”, it said. declared the Elysée in a press release.
Egypt is due to host the COP 27 climate summit in Sharm el-Sheikh in November and Macron and Sisi also discussed tackling global warming.
“The two presidents took stock of the main issues of bilateral cooperation, which are very dense in all areas,” he added.
Last year, the Egyptian military ordered another 30 Rafale jets from French defense firm Dassault Aviation as part of a multibillion-dollar defense deal confirmed by France.
During his reign, Macron placed considerable emphasis on relations with Egypt and, during a state visit in December 2020, awarded Sisi France’s highest honor, the Grand Cross of the Legion. of honor, in a move that appalled rights activists.
Activists have long expressed unease over Sisi’s visits, saying France should do more to raise concern about the estimated 60,000 political prisoners languishing in Egyptian prisons.
In a nod to these concerns, the statement from the Elysée states: “As part of the dialogue of trust between France and Egypt, they also addressed the issue of human rights”.
Of particular concern is the case of Egyptian dissident activist Alaa Abdel Fattah, who went on a hunger strike for more than 100 days after being sentenced in December to five years in prison.
Ahead of the talks, press freedom group Reporters Without Borders (RSF) had urged Macron “not to ignore the fate of Alaa Abdel Fattah… and all detained journalists”.
France had secured promises of new energy supplies from the United Arab Emirates on Monday after talks between Macron and Sheikh Mohamed, known as MBZ.