France and Egypt are collaborating in combating regional challenges in Syria and Libya, French defence minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said in an interview with an Egyptian state-TV channel on Sunday.
This is Le Drian’s seventh visit to Cairo, during which he discussed bilateral military cooperation with President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi.
“The partnership between Egypt and France is going in the right direction,” he said in the interview. “There is shared trust between both countries.”
According to Le Drian, Egypt was the first country to apply to purchase the Rafale jets, followed by India.
French military cooperation with Egypt has increased significantly over the past years. In February 2015, Egypt signed a €5.2bn agreement to buy 24 French Rafale jet fighters. In June, Egypt received a French Mistral helicopter carrier.
Le Drian also said that there is ongoing collaboration between Egypt and French intelligence over conflicts in Libya and Syria. “We face similar challenges and share similar goals of retaining security and stability in the region, and most importantly fighting the barbarity of Islamic State militants,” Le Drian said in the televised interview.
The French chief of staff will also be visiting Egypt in a few weeks, Le Drian added.
“There are many aspects of collaboration; we just need to find the right place and time to tackle those aspects,” Le Drian concluded.
Al-Sisi met with his French counterpart François Hollande last week during the UN general assembly in New York. Both leaders discussed bilateral cooperation, and the French financial contribution to the Africa Renewable Energy Initiative (AREI), led by Egypt.