French PM to make Egypt visit with ‘strong economic dimension’
French Prime Minister Manuel Valls

CAIRO: A top French delegation headed by French Prime Minister Manuel Valls is scheduled to visit Egypt Oct. 9, according to a French Cabinet statement Thursday.

French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius, Defense Minister Jean-Yves Drian, State and Secretary for Transport, Sea and Fishing Alain Vidalies will visit Egypt Oct. 9-11 as their first destination in a Middle East tour; Fabius will also visit Jordan and Saudi Arabia.

The visit has a “strong economic dimension,” as the delegation aims to support French companies in the Middle East. Several agreements on economic and military cooperation will be signed.

The delegation will meet with Egyptian President Abdel Fatah al-Sisi, Prime Minister Sherif Ismail, French and Egyptian businessmen, Grand Imam of Al-Azhar Ahmed al-Tayeb.

On Sept. 23, the French government announced that Egypt had agreed to buy two Mistral-class warships from Paris, which would be the second military deal between the two countries in 2015. The deal saves France millions of euros after canceling the same deal with Russia over the Ukraine crisis.

The earlier Rafale fighter jets deal was hoped to trigger similar sales after years of struggle to sell the planes. Qatar sealed a deal with France to receive a Rafale batch shortly after the sale with Egypt.

In 2014, Egypt bought four small Gowind warships from France in a deal worth 1 billion euro ($1.3 billion).

Egypt has undergone several naval maneuvers in the Red Sea and the Mediterranean over the past two years with different countries, including France, in Egyptian and French waters.

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