French FM visits Tahrir, promises aid, meets youth and has dialogue with Brotherhood

Dina Ezzat , Sunday 6 Mar 2011

In his first visit to Cairo following the 25 January Revolution, French Foreign Minister Alain Juppe said that his country is willing to expand economic and social help to Egypt in the coming weeks and months ahead

Alain Juppe
Alain Juppe

Speaking at a press conference following separate meetings with Supreme Military Council head and Defense Minister Hussein Tantawi, the representatives of the Coalition of Youth Movements and Arab League Secreary-General Amr Moussa, French Foreign Minister Alain Juppe said his country is going to re-send tourists to Egypt and would also assist in the creation of small and medium sized enterprises to help generate more job opportunities in the country.

Juppe said France and other European countries will consider other possible ways of extending help within the framework of the Union for the Mediterranean, which was launched in 2008.

Juppe, however, did not indicate any immediate intention on the part of Paris to forgive Egypt's outstanding debts to France. "It might not be a good idea or a good indication, and Egypt does not need this," he told reporters.

The French top diplomat, however, said that his country was willing to give careful thought to any demands that might be forwarded by Egypt.

Meanwhile, Juppe said his country is willing to provide Egypt with any assistance – whatever that might be "when asked by Egypt".

"I did not arrive here with a ready-made receipe for how things should go forward," the French foreign minister insisted. He added that it would be a big mistake for France, or for that matter any other country, to put itself in place of the Egyptian people who should decide for themselves the course of political and social developments in their nation.

The role of France, said the foreign minister, is "to be here and extend when asked to" on a host of issues including in the political and social spheres.

Meanwhile, Juppe said that he had met with a group of representatives of the Muslim Brotherhood for "an interesting" dialogue that shed a new light on the ideas of the Islamist group. He added that much more discussion is worthwhile to properly understand in full the ideas of the Muslim Brotherhood and to inquire some more into their suggested concept of liberal Islam.

Juppe's visit to Cairo is his first foreign trip since he was assigned head of Egyptian diplomacy a few days ago. At the onset of his visit he arrived at Tahrir Square to pay tribute to the 'spirit of liberation' and to express the "support of France for more liberties" that he said are being embraced by the Arab public.

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