PARIS, September 23. /TASS/. The Egyptian delegation is currently in talks with France on purchasing two Mistral-type helicopter carriers built for Russia, La Tribune reported on Wednesday.
Egyptian negotiators received permission to discuss the possible deal from President Abdl Fattah al-Sisi. According to the sources cited by the French newspaper, apart from Mistral helicopter carriers, Cairo is also interested in purchasing two Gorwind-class corvettes, but the sides cannot agree on the price. The negotiations are complicated by the fact that the French Economy Ministry has proposed an inflated price which, in Egypt’s opinion, deprives representatives of the DCNS shipbuilding company responsible for the construction of helicopter carries of "any possibility for maneuver". "Last week, Egyptians almost closed the door twice because DCNS has nothing to answer them," the newspaper said.
The discussions were resumed at the last moment. However, La Tribune said it is hard to forecast any future developments. Negotiations will continue "until the end of October", and official decisions can be expected around this time, the newspaper noted. "In any case, Egypt looks very interested in purchasing assault ships, though it never had the equipment of such scale in its fleet," La Tribune said. "Around 10 days ago, the Egyptian delegation visited Saint-Nazaire. It is supposed that the ships will be stationed in the Red and Mediterranean Seas for a possible intervention in Libya and Yemen," the newspaper noted.
The €1.12-billion contract to build the Mistral amphibious assault ships for the Russian navy was signed in June 2011.
The first Mistral, the Vladivostok, was floated in October 2013. It was expected to be handed over to Russia by the French side in the fall of 2014, but the handover did not take place.
The second Mistral, the Sevastopol, was to be delivered to Russia in October 2015, but the deal was suspended too.
France suspended the delivery of Mistrals to Russia as part of a package of sanctions the European countries imposed on Moscow for what they claimed was its alleged role in destabilization of east Ukraine.
Russia has constantly dismissed allegations that Moscow could in any way be involved in hostilities in Ukraine’s east.
In early August, Russia and France reached an agreement to officially cancel the contract. Under the deal, Russia gets the money and the equipment back, and France will then be able to use the warships.