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7 Dec, 2020 14:32

French arms sales to Egypt won’t be conditional on human rights due to terrorism threat, Macron says as he meets Sisi

French arms sales to Egypt won’t be conditional on human rights due to terrorism threat, Macron says as he meets Sisi

President Emmanuel Macron said on Monday that France does not plan to make any agreements on arms sales with Egypt conditional on Cairo’s human rights record, so as not to weaken its fight against terrorism in the region.

Macron met with Egypt’s President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi in Paris. “I will not condition matters of defense and economic cooperation on these disagreements [over human rights],” the French president said during a joint press conference after talks in the Elysee Palace. “It is more effective to have a policy of demanding dialogue than a boycott which would only reduce the effectiveness of one our partners in the fight against terrorism.”

France views Egypt as a bulwark against Islamist militants in the Sinai Peninsula and Libya, but Sisi’s visit comes amid criticism from human rights groups over the crackdown on dissent.

Macron said he had spoken frankly to Sisi and raised the issue of human rights during their talks on Monday, but he did not give details.

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Prior to Sisi’s visit to France, 17 human rights groups issued a joint statement denouncing France’s selling arms and surveillance and crowd control tools to Egypt. “French diplomacy has, at the highest levels, long indulged President Sisi’s brutal repression of any form of dissent,” the joint statement said. “It is now or never for President Macron to stand up for his self-declared commitment to promote human rights in Egypt.”

Egyptian authorities recently released three workers from the Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights who were detained in November.

When Macron visited Cairo in 2019, he claimed that “things did not go in the right direction” in Egypt, as “bloggers, journalists and activists” were being detained in the country.
However, Sisi has repeatedly claimed that tough measures are necessary to avoid situations similar to those in Syria, Yemen, and Libya.

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