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French press review 8 August 2015

Le Monde reports on Egypt's interest in the French warship Mistral. The daily says that after attending the inauguration of Suez Canal expansion, President Francois Hollande and President Abdel Fatah Al Sissi spoke about deepening their strategic partnership.

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After securing a deal for 24 Rafale fighter jets, Egypt is now keen to acquire the two Mistral warships which were originally meant to be delivered to Russia.

However, because of Russia's involvement in the Ukrainian conflict, the deal collapsed.

Le Monde also features an editorial on the new exploration race in the Arctic Circle.

The editorial says that the Arctic is one of the world's most inhospitable regions but also the one that is abundant in resources.

As global warming melts ice caps and new shipping routes open, the Arctic has become the scene of major geopolitical and economic rivalries between neighbouring countries including Russia, the United States as well as Canada, Norway and Denmark.

The editorial has a cautious note regarding the risks of exploration.

It says that with the consequences of the disastrous oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico still fresh in people's minds, NGOs and locals are alarmed at the prospect of a similar spill taking place in the Arctic.

The editorial advocates taking a more thoughtful and collective approach in this regard.

Libération’s front page carries a report on how despite the collapse of the Mistral deal between France and Russia, French arms exports have broken records this year.

The report states that Egypt, which became the first foreign country to buy Rafale fighter jets, is now interested in the Mistral as well as Saudi Arabia which has been the biggest buyer of French arms in the past five years.

It also states that other interested countries include Canada, Singapore and Brazil.

The appetite of states like Saudi Arabia and India, which is the second largest buyer of French arms, is reflected by the record amount of orders France has received this year which stands at about 15 billion euros in June.

This is against the 8.2 billion euros figure for the whole of 2014.

The report states that France benefited from the dissatisfaction of Arab countries towards the US and renewed tensions in the Middle East.

Libé also carries a report on the release of French hostage Isabelle Prime stating the key role Oman played in her release.

The 30-year-old Prime was released on Thursday night and taken to Oman from where she reached France last evening.

The report states that the identity of the kidnappers has not yet been revealed.

It quotes a Yemeni source as saying that the Houthi rebels could have been involved in the kidnapping.

It states that the Sultanate of Oman played a key role as it is close to Iran which is the main foreign support for the Houthi rebels.

Oman had already helped in the release of three French and one American hostage in Yemen.

The report states that Oman has played an important intermediary role in the nuclear negotiations between the United States and Iran.

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