A deal between France and Egypt to purchase 5.2 billion Euros worth of French military equipment will be partially financed by a 3.2 billion Euro loan from France, President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi said during an interview with Al-Arabiya channel Saturday.
“It is a loan that the French government will offer to Egypt,” Sisi told the network.
The president mentioned the financing agreement in an attempt to counteract accusations that financial aid from the Arab Gulf was being channeled to support the military.
The total deal is estimated to be worth 5.2 billion Euros. The president did not clarify where the additional two billion Euros would come from.
According to a February 6 report by French newspaper Les Echos, Egypt initially requested that France guarantee 80 to 90 percent of the value of the contract, but French export credit agency COFACE eventually offered a financing plan to cover around 50 percent of the value.
In a deal announced February 12 and signed February 16, Egypt agreed to purchase 24 Rafale fighter jets, a multi-mission naval frigate and related equipment from France.
Egypt was the first international buyer for the Rafale jet, which for two decades has failed to find traction on the global market.
Deals to sell the fighter jet fell through with Libya, Brazil, Switzerland and Morocco, and negotiations over a sale to India have dragged on since 2012.
Eager to seal a foreign buyer, France not only offered funding but is also reportedly cooperating with Egypt’s request to deliver the equipment in time for the planned opening of the new Suez Canal expansion in August.
According to state-run MENA news, France’s Defense Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said that sealing the deal in record time proves the mutual understanding and trust between the two countries.
Le Drian reportedly said that the situation in Libya has become a major concern for France, and stressed his country’s full support for Egypt and its cooperation with France in its fight against terrorism.
Rights groups, including Amnesty International, have criticized the sale, expressing concern that the Egyptian military could use French equipment in ways that violate human rights and international law.