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France to deepen relations with Egypt despite human rights divergences

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French President Emmanuel Macron, right, and Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah el-Siss gesture upon el-Sissi arrival at the Elysee palace, Monday, Dec. 7, 2020 in Paris
French President Emmanuel Macron, right, and Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah el-Siss gesture upon el-Sissi arrival at the Elysee palace, Monday, Dec. 7, 2020 in Paris   -   Copyright  AP Photo/Michel Euler
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Disagreements over human rights issues will not prevent France from reaching economic and defense deals with Egypt, President Emmanuel Macron said on Monday.

Macron's comments were made after he received his Egyptian counterpart Abdel-Fattah Al-Sisi in Paris.

During their meeting, both heads of state also expressed opposing views about the role of religious values in society.

Macron called for greater inclusiveness of civil society in the political decision-making process in Egypt, saying it is a better way to fight extremism than "political repression".

The pair also discussed terrorism, the conflict in Libya and other regional issues.

Al-Sisi's visit however was criticised by some activists.

Over 20 human rights groups denounced in a joint statement France’s strategic partnership with Egypt, saying the country is "abusively using counter-terrorism legislation to eradicate the legitimate work in favor of human rights and suppress all peaceful dissent in the country.”

A demonstration is expected on Tuesday in Paris near the National Assembly.

(More on this story in Nial O'Reilly's package in the above player).