“They agreed on the principle and the terms of the acquisition by Egypt of the two [ships],” the French President Francois Hollande’s spokesman told reporters in a statement on Wednesday.
The deal was agreed at a high-profile meeting between French and Egyptian delegations in Paris.
It had earlier been reported that several countries had been interested in purchasing the amphibious carriers, which were originally built for the Russians. The interested parties included Canada, India, Singapore and Egypt, who Paris eventually agreed to sell the ships to. However, negotiations between the two sides almost broke down last week, as Paris and Cairo could not agree on a price for the two vessels, reported La Tribune newspaper.
The Mistrals contract, worth €1.2 billion ($1.3 billion), was signed by France’s DCNS/STX and Russia’s Rosoboronexport in 2011. The contract specified that two French helicopter carriers would be delivered to Russia, the first in 2014 and the second in 2015. Russia was to partly manufacture the vessel hulls and provide its own military electronic equipment for the warships.
However, the French government decided not to hand the vessels over to Moscow after it came under intense political pressure from the US and its European allies following Crimea’s reunification with Russia and the outbreak of armed conflict in eastern Ukraine.