Egypt, France agree to step up cooperation against terrorism

‘Fruitful’ discussions

PARIS – Egypt's president Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi met Wednesday with his French Counterpart Francois Hollande as he began a two-day trip to France, the second leg of a first European tour.
Sisi and Hollande agreed to cooperate in efforts to counter terrorism, resolve the Palestinian situation and support the current Iraqi government.
In a joint press conference in Paris, Sisi noted his discussions with Hollande were “fruitful” and reflected unified opinions regarding bilateral, regional and international relations.
The two leaders focused on the Palestinian issue agreeing to “exert all possible efforts” to solve the situation with Sisi highlighting the importance of resolving the Palestine issue by encouraging both sides to continue the peace process.
He added that if resolved, it will represent a great shift regionally and possibly internationally, as it is important for “Palestinians to possess a state with its capital East Jerusalem”.
He noted that this would give the Israelis a chance to exist in a way “that is convenient to Israelis and the rest of the region”.
The pair tackled the situation in Iraq. They agreed to cooperate with the Iraqi government and all sides in the international community to support Iraq to confront the danger threatening its people and its sovereignty.
Addressing the situation in Syria, they discussed the importance of reaching a political solution to end the conflict in Syria while protecting the state’s institution.
However, the two presidents “shared concerns” about negative developments witnessed in Libya. Sisi said that Libya could become “fertile soil” for extremist groups exploiting the period of insecurity the country is going through.
Sisi said “we will support whoever the Libyans choose” and expressed solidarity with Libyan people and army.
Sisi is also set to meet several top French officials, including the speakers of both houses of parliament and French Ministers of Foreign Affairs Laurent Fabius and of Defence Jean-Yves Le Drian.
Sisi arrives from Italy, where he was hailed as a "strategic partner" of Rome and Europe.
This is partly due to shared problems and enemies, notably the lawlessness in Libya and the Islamic State.
Sisi hopes to coordinate an international response to fighting in Libya between government-backed troops and Islamist militias.
Hollande has described Libya's descent into chaos after the 2012 overthrow of Moamer Gathafi as his "major concern", sounding the alarm over what Paris has termed a "terrorist hub".
The Egyptians "have the feeling that they weren't heard in 2011 when they warned of the dangers of a Western intervention. They hope to be heard today," said a French government source.
"They believe we need to re-intervene in Libya but we doubt that this crisis can be solved purely by force," added the source.