French President Emmanuel Macron is to hold talks with Egyptian counterpart Abdel Fattah al-Sisi in Cairo on Wednesday, Macron’s office said, on the latest leg of a whistlestop crisis tour.
Macron on Tuesday visited Israel where he voiced support for its riposte to Hamas after gunmen from the Islamist group unleashed the deadliest attack on Israel in its history on October 7. He also visited the occupied West Bank.
The French leader is also due to meet King Abdullah II of Jordan in Amman before leaving for Egypt, one of the main brokers in efforts to secure the release of more than 200 hostages held by Hamas in the Gaza Strip.
Ahead of his meeting with Macron, Sisi inspected Egyptian troops and spoke of “patience” and “wisdom” in a televised address.
“You must always be ready,” the Egyptian president told the armed forces, three days after an Egyptian border watchtower was hit and guards were wounded by accidental Israeli shelling.
He also said Egypt was doing “all it can” to push for de-escalation and a ceasefire, as well as “support civilians in Gaza” by securing aid through the Rafah border crossing, the only passage in and out of the territory not controlled by Israel.
Sisi said the military exercise was originally planned for the 50th anniversary of the “glorious victory” of 6 October, 1973 — the date of a surprise attack that led to Egypt regaining control of the Sinai Peninsula from Israeli occupation.
In the Camp David accords of 1979, Egypt became the first Arab state to recognise Israel and normalise relations.
On October 7, Hamas militants attacked Israel, killing more than 1,400 people, most of them civilians, according to Israeli authorities.
In relentless Israeli bombing since, more than 5,790 people, mostly civilians, have been killed in the Gaza Strip, according to the Palestinian territory’s Hamas-controlled health ministry.