France in talks with Egypt for fresh corvette sale: diplomat

25th July 2015, Comments 0 comments

Egypt is in talks with Frances to purchase two more naval corvettes, a French diplomat said Saturday, as Defence Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian visited Cairo in an African tour.

French shipbuilder DCNS had already signed a contract estimated at one billion euros ($1.1 billion) to supply four Gowind-class corvettes to Egypt, which also became the first country to purchase French Rafale jets.

Le Drian, whose government has developed close ties with Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, met the leader and his defence minister Saturday morning.

"There is a bid for two more corvettes; the discussions are ongoing," the source told AFP after the meetings.

The talks also touched on Libya, where Egypt had conducted air strikes on Islamist militants and pushed for intervention amid a slide to chaos in the neighbouring country.

"Overall on Libya what we can say is that during the meeting we underlined our support for the mediation by Bernardino Leon," the source said, referring to the UN mediator between Libya's rival governments.

The diplomat said the ball was in the court of internationally recognised Libyan government based in the east of the country to accept a Leon-mediated deal.

"The responsibility lies there to move forward on the unity government," he said.

Le Drian's visit to Cairo came days after Egypt took delivery of three of the 24 Rafale fighters it bought from France in a 5.2-billion-euro deal.

Egypt bought the jets to boost its military capability in the face of an unstable Libya to the west and the threat posed by the Islamic State group in the Sinai Peninsula.

© 2015 AFP

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