France - Egypt - Libya

France, Egypt call for new measures against IS after Coptic beheadings video

France and Egypt on Monday called for the UN Security Council to meet to plan new measures against the Islamic State (IS) armed group as Cairo launched air strikes against the jihadists following the posting of a video of the beheading of 21 Coptic Christians.

The families of the Copts demonstrate on Friday before their murder
The families of the Copts demonstrate on Friday before their murder Reuters/Mohamed Abd El Ghany

French President François Hollande and Egypt’s Abdel Fattah al-Sisi spoke by telephone after the footage was released by IS fighters in Libya.

"The two heads of state discussed the situation in Libya and the spread of Daesh [an Arabic acronym for IS] operations in the country," read a statement from the French presidency. "They highlighted the importance that the Security Council meet and that the international community take new measures to face up to this danger."

French Defence Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian was due in Cario on Monday to sign a deal to sell 24 Rafale fighter jets to Egypt’s armed forces, the first foreign sale of the multi-purpose combat plane.

The beheadings were an “additional reason for security”, Le Drian said before leaving Paris.

Al-Sisi "has a strategic need to ensure the security of the Suez canal, through which a large part of global trade passes," Le Drian added. "That is the main reason for the urgency to have both naval and aerial capabilities to ensure this security.”

Human rights groups, including Amnesty International, have criticised the sale because of “alarming” abuses by Sisi’s government.

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