France set to ink controversial jet sale to Egypt

French Defence Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian (L) listens to a pilot's explanations near a Rafale fighter jet during a visit to an air base in Avord, central France, on April 12, 2013/AFP[/caption]Paris, France, Feb 16 - France and Egypt are poised to sign a multi-billion-euro deal for the first foreign sale of the Rafale fighter jet despite human rights concerns.
French Defence Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian (L) listens to a pilot's explanations near a Rafale fighter jet during a visit to an air base in Avord, central France, on April 12, 2013/AFP
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, Attempts to sell the jet to countries such as South Korea, Singapore, Morocco, Switzerland and Brazil have seen the Rafale lose out to its foreign competitors.

– ‘Alarming’ rights abuses –

Despite the cheering in Paris, the agreed sale has sparked fury from some groups over perceived human rights abuses in Egypt.

Rights group Amnesty International attacked the decision to sell the 24 jets and a frigate to a nation it accused of “alarming” human rights abuses.

And others have criticised Paris of double standards by freezing its delivery of two Mistral-class warships to Russia over the Ukraine crisis but going ahead with the Egypt deal.

Current Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi was elected in May 2014 with 96.91 percent of the vote a year after toppling the country’s first freely elected leader, Islamist Mohamed Morsi.

A subsequent crackdown on Morsi’s supporters left at least 1,400 dead and thousands more in jail.

“Just because we are selling these Rafales to Egypt doesn’t mean we agree with every point in their domestic policy,” said Fabius.

“When there are excesses that are committed, we tell the Egyptian authorities — from our point of view — and we are hoping to move step by step towards more democracy.”

“But the stability of Egypt is a very important point.”

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