French President Macron Heads to Sunni Egypt Amid Row with Shiite Iran
French President Emmanuel Macron was slated to arrive in Sunni Egypt on Sunday, a three-day visit geared towards solidifying relations with the Arab world’s most populous country. Macron is heading a delegation that includes numerous government ministers as well as dozens of business leaders. The French president will meet with his counterpart Abdel al-Fattah al-Sisi and hold a dinner with heads of local Christian and Muslim communities. The trip comes against the backdrop of Western concerns about Cairo’s human rights record, with al-Sisi accused of jailing thousands of dissidents along with tens of thousands of Islamists as part of his ostensible crackdown on extremism. It also comes amid tensions between France and Shiite Iran, with the former having threatened last week to impose additional sanctions on the Islamic Republic over its ballistic missile program and territorial expansionism. In the event, an Iranian government spokesman vowed that Tehran would “reconsider [its] relations with Europe and continue to advance defense capabilities.” Relations between the two countries soured after Paris slapped financial penalties on the head of Iran’s intelligence ministry over a foiled plot to bomb a meeting of a dissident group on French soil.