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France - JORDAN - Egypt

Hollande arrives in Jordan to discuss fighting IS in Syria, refugees

King Abdallah II of Jordan
King Abdallah II of Jordan Reuters/Gary Cameron

French President François Hollande arrived in Jordan, where he was set to discuss the refugee crisis and fighting the Islamic State (IS) armed group on Tuesday morning, as part of a four-day tour of the Middle East. During his two-day visit to Egypt, French firms signed 19 contracts worth more than two billion euros, including one for the sale of a military telecoms satellite.

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Hollande was to spend one day in Jordan, where he was to meet King Abdallah II and visit the Prince Hassan air base from which French aircraft take off to bomb IS positions in Syria and Iraq.

In Egypt on Sunday Hollande called for "everything possible to be done" to maintain the truce in Syria, following opposition calls for peace talks to be suspended unless President Bashar al-Assad's regime commits itself to political transition.

"If negotiations do not resume, if fighting does, there would again be the worst fears for civilians [and] consequences in terms of refugees," he said in a speech at the French embassy.

On Monday the Syrian opposition suspended its "formal participation" in the talks in protest at escalating violence in the country.

Before Hollande arrived in Jordan, the Elysée French presidential palace hailed the country's "leading role in the fight against terrorism" and pointed out that it is hosting 600,000 Syrian refugees.

Hollande was also under pressure to call for the extradition of two Palestinians living in Jordan who are among four people accused of involvement in the 1982 attack on a Jewish restaurant in Paris that killed six people.

The Amman public prosecutor has appealed against a court's refusal to hand them over in response to an international arrest warrant issued by France last year.

Contracts signed during Hollande Egypt visit

Egyptian officials signed a contract, believed to be worth about 600 million euros, on Monday for a military telecoms satellite with Airbus Space Systems and Thales Alenia Space.

The total value of contracts signed during Hollande's visit to Cairo was over two billion euros, the Elysée said, with a consortium headed by Vinci and Bouygues winning one worth 1.2 billion euros to build an extension to the Cairo metro.

"France is the sixth-largest investor in Egypt [and] intends to go up a few steps", Hollande said on Sunday, while Egyptian leader Abdel Fattah al-Sisi said his country was "working seriously to create an investment climate that is attractive to foreign companies".

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