France's Hollande begins two-day visit to Egypt


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French President François Hollande arrived in Cairo on Sunday for a two-day visit seen as a boost for President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, with security and economic cooperation on the table, reports The Times of India.

Hollande arrived from Beirut, as part of a regional tour that will also take him to Jordan. A beaming Sisi greeted the French president at Cairo airport, live footage on state television showed.

Hollande brings a delegation of business leaders in tow, and he and Sisi are expected to also discuss Middle East crises including the war against the Islamic State group and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

He went straight to the historic Al-Qubbah palace, where his car, flanked by a cavalry guard, pulled up to a gun salute.

Hollande and Sisi were to hold a meeting and were expected to give a press conference later Sunday.

The question of human rights will be in the background. Hollande has been among Sisi's strongest supporters in Europe, since the former army chief overthrew his Islamist predecessor and launched a bloody crackdown on protesters in 2013.

France has already signed major arms contracts with Egypt since, and Hollande and his delegation are expected to agree economic deals throughout the visit.

These agreements will include deals on funding transportation and renewable energy, the French presidency has said.

On the eve of the visit, human rights groups including Amnesty International had criticised what they called France's "deafening silence" on rights violations in Egypt.