The two Mistral-class helicopter carriers Sevastopol (L) and Vladivostok are seen at the STX Les Chantiers de l'Atlantique shipyard site in Saint-Nazaire, western France, May 25, 2015. (Photo:Reuters)
Egypt signed a deal with France to buy two Mistral warships, announced at a joint press conference Saturday.
The deal was signed at a conference attended by Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi, Egyptian Prime Minister Sherif Ismail, Egyptian Defence Minister Sedky Sobhi and French Defence Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian.
A French delegation arrived to Egypt ahead of the deal, including French Prime Minister Manuel Valls as well as 63 diplomats and journalists.
The visit is expected to involve other deals, mostly economic.
The two Mistral warships were originally built by France for Russia before the sale was scrapped over the Ukraine crisis.
According to AFP, the two warships can each carry 16 helicopters, four landing craft and 13 tanks, and were ordered by Russia in 2011 in a 1.2 billion-euro ($1.3-billion) deal.
Paris and Cairo have enjoyed close economic ties in the past, but the turmoil that followed the overthrow of Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak in 2011 left Western governments wary of signing deals, especially ones pertaining to defence.
In February, Egypt announced a 5.2 billion-euro deal to buy 24 French Rafale jet fighters.
In the same month, Egypt signed a contract with the French company VINCI Bouygues Travaux Public to complete the construction of the fourth phase of Cairo’s third metro line.
French officials from the country’s development agency, who attended Egypt’s economic development conference in Sharm El-Sheikh in March, announced that the agency will provide a 40 million-euro sovereign loan to finance a power plant in Kom Ombo in Upper Egypt.