“They agreed on the principle and the terms of the acquisition by Egypt of the two” Mistral warships, Hollande’s office said in a statement on Wednesday.
The assault ships, which can each carry 16 helicopter gunships, 700 troops and up to 50 armored vehicles, were originally intended for Russian Federation .
Sisi came to power following a popularly backed coup against Mohamed Morsi, Egypt’s first democratically elected president.
A diplomatic source said Cairo wanted to base one ship in the Mediterranean and another in the Red Sea, making it available for future operations in Yemen, where Egypt is part of a Saudi-led coalition fighting Houthi rebels.
Russia’s deal with France was originally supposed to be its biggest arms purchase ever from a North Atlantic Treaty Organisation country.
Even after the sanctions related to Russia’s misadventures in Ukraine kicked in last year, France continued building the warships to Russia’s spec (including Cyrillic signage throughout the vessels) until the deal was finally canceled earlier this year.
However, the French government decided not to hand the vessels over to Moscow after it came under intense political pressure from the U.S. and its European allies following Crimeas reunification with Russian Federation and the outbreak of armed conflict in eastern Ukraine. The interested parties included Canada, India, Singapore and Egypt, who Paris eventually agreed to sell the ships to. However, this week’s announcement did not specify how much Egypt agreed to pay, but claimed it was not losing money on the deal.
The 5.2-billion-euro ($5.9 billion) sale of the planes was a rare triumph for France which had failed to export its flagship multi-role combat jet.
However rights group Amnesty worldwide slammed the decision to sell the planes to a nation it has accused of “alarming” human rights abuses.