France’s Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian expressed his country’s aspiration to deepen cooperation with Egypt to counter growing extremism and intolerance, as he met with Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi on Sunday, the presidency said.
The French FM’s visit to Egypt comes amid an uproar and condemnation of comments made by French President Emmanuel Macron on Islam, as well as calls to boycott French products after Macron defended people’s right to make images of the Prophet Muhammad, something which is highly forbidden in Islam.
Le Drian, during the meeting with El-Sisi, affirmed France’s respect and appreciation of all religions and religious values and principles, hailing Egypt as a model of moderation, according to the statement.
He also referred to Egypt’s approach in establishing values of co-existence, freedom of worship and respect of the other. He also praised Egypt’s efforts under President El-Sisi to allow dialogue among people of different religions.
El-Sisi stressed the urgent need to consolidate all efforts to establish tolerance among religions, extend bridges of understanding and brotherhood and avoid attacking religious symbols.
The president voiced categorical rejection of all forms of terrorism and the act of tying any religion with violent and extremist acts.
He pointed out Egypt’s experience in establishing tolerance, renouncing violence, extremist thought and terrorism.
El-Sisi voiced Egypt’s willingness to cooperate with and endorse all international efforts to enhance these concepts.
The meeting was attended by Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry and French Ambassador to Cairo Stéphane Romatet.
El-Sisi and Le Drian also discussed recent developments in Libya.
El-Sisi reviewed with the French FM Egypt’s unchangeable strategic stance on Libya, especially concerning supporting current negotiations, maintaining a ceasefire, conducting elections, and forming a new government.
Le Drian also met on Sunday with Grand Imam of Al-Azhar, Egypt’s top religious authority, Ahmed El-Tayyeb.