Egypt, France sign arms purchase agreement

CAIRO (AA) – Egypt and France on Monday signed a military cooperation deal that includes the purchase by Egypt of 24 French Rafale fighter jets and a frigate.

Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah al-Sisi was present for the signing of the agreement, according to Egypt's official news agency.

The news agency added that, apart from the fighter jets and the frigate, the deal also includes the purchase from France of short- and medium-range rockets.

The deal, it said, was worth a total of 5.2 billion euros (roughly $5.9 billion).

Earlier Monday, Egyptian Defense Minister Sedki Sobhi met in Cairo with his visiting French counterpart, Jean-Yves Le Drian, to discuss the arms purchase.

"The meeting focused on means of increasing military cooperation between Egypt and France and the exchange of expertise between the armed forces of both countries," Egypt's Defense Ministry said in a statement.

The ministry described the French arms purchases as "powerful additions" to the Egyptian armed forces' combat capabilities that would bolster the army's ability to carry out various missions.

The statement did not, however, mention the number of fighter jets Egypt plans to buy from France or when exactly they would be delivered.

The Elysee Palace, however, quoted French President Francois Hollande as saying on Thursday that Egypt planned to buy 24 French Rafale fighter jets, along with a frigate.

The Egyptian Defense Ministry said on its website that talks between the two defense ministers had also touched on regional and international developments, along with means of eradicating terrorism.

Le Drian arrived in Cairo earlier Monday at the head of a military delegation to formally sign the arms purchase agreement.

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