“They agreed on the principle and terms of the purchase of two Mistral-class projection and command ships by Egypt“, the statement reads, Sputnik reported.
The two 200-meter (650-foot) amphibious helicopter carriers were due for delivery to Russian Federation by the end of this year in a deal worth an estimated €1.2 billion ($1.3 billion).
Now languishing in the port of Saint-Nazaire the ships can each carry 16 helicopters, 4 landing craft and 700 troops.
Egypt’s president, Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, has reportedly approved of the purchase, but the parties continued to negotiate over the price.
The new deal with Egypt may be taken as a further vote of confidence by France to the country’s current rulers, who are battling to stabilise a stagnant economy while also conducting wide-scale military operations against militant activity.
A government spokesman said earlier that France had agreed to sell the vessels to Egypt and would not incur a financial loss in the transaction.
“Egypt plays an important role in the Middle East and wants to move towards a democratic transition, which is not easy, and we should support their efforts”.
France also committed not to sell the two warships to a country that could “contravene Russia’s interests”, such as Poland or the Baltic states, a diplomatic source said.
The fundamentalist Islamic insurgency rose up again after the Egyptian military removed Islamist President Mohammed Morsi in July 2013 during huge protests against his rule, and then undertook a massive crack down on Islamic groups such as the Muslim Brotherhood.
Peter Roberts, a senior research fellow at the Royal United Services Institute and a former Royal Navy officer, said Egypt’s military is shifting its focus, previously focused on the Sinai, to a more regional outlook.
“The reality is that Egypt isn’t going to try to conquer Libya or Yemen”, said Ben Moores, an analyst with IHS Janes.