Cairo - French President Francois Hollande arrived in Cairo on Sunday for a two-day visit seen as a boost for President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, with security and economic cooperation on the table.
Hollande arrived from Beirut, as part of a regional tour that will also take him to Jordan. A beaming Sisi greeted the French president at Cairo airport, live footage on state television showed.
Hollande brings a delegation of business leaders in tow, and he and Sisi are expected to also discuss Middle East crises including the war against the Islamic State group and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
He went straight to the historic Al-Qubbah palace, where his car, flanked by a cavalry guard, pulled up to a gun salute.
Hollande and Sisi were to hold a meeting and were expected to give a press conference later Sunday.
Hollande has been among Sisi’s strongest supporters in Europe.
France has already signed major arms contracts with Egypt since, and Hollande and his delegation are expected to agree economic deals throughout the visit.
These agreements will include deals on funding transportation and renewable energy, the French presidency has said.
Sisi, who won a presidential election in 2014, has manoeuvred his country into being a cornerstone in the fight against the Islamic State group, which a US-led coalition is battling in Iraq and Syria.
For France, Egypt has also become a key market, especially for military hardware.
Egypt was the first country to buy French Rafale warplanes, and also purchased two Mistral helicopter carrier ships.
After his Cairo trip, Hollande will on Tuesday visit Jordan’s Prince Hassan air base, where French aircraft taking part in the coalition battling IS in Syria and Iraq are stationed.
Source: AFP, April 17