Egypt's President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi with French foreign minister Jean-Marc Ayrault in Cairo on Wednesday, 9 March, 2016 (Photo: French embassy in Cairo)
Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi met Wednesday with French foreign minister Jean-Marc Ayrault in Cairo where they discussed a number of issues including France’s peace initiative for the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Ayrault told El-Sisi that France is invested in resuming three-decades-old peace talks that last resumed in July 2013 before collapsing in April 2014.
The French FM said that diffusing the tension between the two sides would prevent others from exploiting the conflict to fuel extremism and terrorism, according to a statement by the French embassy in Cairo.
Ayrault added that he would discuss the French initiative with his Arab counterparts at the League of Arab States.
Later, at a press conference with FM Shoukry, Ayrault said that France would not "automatically" recognise a Palestinian state if a Paris initiative to host an international conference to revive Israeli-Palestinian peace talks fails, AFP reported.
Former French prime minister Laurent Fabius had stirred Israeli anger in January by proposing such a conference and saying that France would "recognise a Palestinian state" if peace talks failed.
"Nothing is ever automatic. France will present its initiative to its partners. It will be the first step, there is no pre-requisite," Ayrault said when asked by a journalist in Cairo about Fabius' remarks.
At the meeting of the Egyptian president and the French FM, the two also discussed the latest developments in Syria and Egypt's call for a political settlement in the war-torn country, according to an official statement by the Egyptian presidency.
El-Sisi argued that reaching a political settlement in coordination with regional and international powers would keep the unity of Syrian territories and state institutions.
The two also discussed the latest developments in Libya, with El-Sisi stressing the importance of supporting the Libyan national army and lifting the UN arms embargo in order to enable the Libyan government to fight terrorism.
The meeting of the two officials was attended by Egypt's foreign minister Sameh Shoukry, the French special envoy to the Middle East and the French ambassador in Cairo.
This is the first visit for Ayrault to Egypt as France's minister of foreign affairs since he took office in February following the resignation of Laurent Fabius.
The French FM is expected to meet representatives of Egyptian civil society during his two-day visit.
Ayrault’s visit to Cairo comes as part of the preparations for French President Francois Hollande's visit to Egypt in April.