Egypt's President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi discussed a variety of issues with French President Emmanuel Macron during a meeting at the Elysee Palace in Paris on Tuesday, in particular regional and international efforts to combat terrorism.
In a press conference held after the meeting, the Egyptian president also stated that he and Macron discussed the latest developments concerning the Middle East peace process after the recent Palestinian political reconciliation, which Egypt hosted in Cairo.
The pair further discussed the situations in Libya and the wider Arab region.
"We have discussed the situation in Syria and Iraq, as well the Sahel and Sahara region in Africa. We also exchanged views about how to deal with the illegal immigration in addition to discussing the relation between Egypt and the European Union," President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi said.
El-Sisi also announced that he and his French counterpart attended the signing of 16 memoranda of understanding in the fields of renewable and traditional energy, infrastructure, social security, and transportation.
The Egyptian President said that he and Macron agreed to declare 2019 as the year of Egyptian-French culture and tourism, and that he personally invited Macron to visit Egypt.
Responding to questions
During the ensuing press conference, an Egyptian journalist asked President Macron if there was an agreement or partnership between France and Egypt in the fight against terrorism.
The French president stated that there was a strategic partnership between Egypt and France in fighting terrorism and that France was fully supporting Egypt in its war against extremist violence.
"We hope to work in a balanced way to end terrorism, as well as conflicts, especially in Syria and Libya," he said, stressing on the necessity of working together to face jihadist movements.
Macron also said that France would cooperate with Egypt on a diplomatic level concerning the ongoing civil war in Syria.
"Egypt and France have an important role in that matter. If there is no political solution in Syria, a lot of terrorist movements will appear and this will have a negative impact on the region as well on Egypt," Macron said.
Pressed by a French journalist about the human rights situation in Egypt, the French president said that his government fully understands the difficult situation in Egypt and that there are ongoing concerns about stability.
Macron also added that he and his government believed that they should not interfere in other countries affairs. "I believe in sovereignty. We are in no position to tell Egypt what to do," he told the journalist.
Nonetheless he revealed that he had addressed certain specific human rights cases with President El-Sisi in their discussion, but refused to reveal which.
From his side, Sisi stated that the Egyptian government respects human rights and that there are over 40 thousand NGOs currently operating in Egypt.
The Egyptian president also added that we should not neglect the human rights of the families of the martyrs who died in the war of terrorism, suggesting that terrorism is a great threat to human rights.
"We do not run from questions about human rights, but we are not Europe," he said.
President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi is currently in a visit to Paris that started on Monday.