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PARIS, June 22, 2018 (MENA) – French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian is scheduled to embark on a foreign tour that will take him to Egypt, Greece, and Cyprus on June 28-30, the French Foreign Ministry said Friday.

Le Drian is expected to hold talks with Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry on a raft of regional and international issues, topped by the Libyan and Syrian files and the Middle East peace process.

During his stay in Egypt, Le Drian will discuss with the Egyptian side means of boosting bilateral ties, particularly in the field of fighting terrorism.

In April, the French top diplomat had paid an official visit to Egypt, during which he had talks with President Abdel Fattah El Sisi.

 

 

 

 

MOSCOW, June 22, 2018 (News Wires) - France might not have impressed in their first two World Cup matches, but they have already secured their last-16 spot and will use their last Group C game against Denmark to improve before the knockout phase.

Les Bleus needed a penalty, given by the video assistant referee, and goal-line technology to beat Australia 2-1 in their opening game, and they were shaken up by Peru on Thursday but won 1-0 thanks to a Kylian Mbappe goal.

They need to avoid defeat against Denmark on Tuesday to top the group.

With Argentina struggling in group D, Les Bleus could face Jorge Sampaoli's side in the last 16, but winning against Denmark is their only priority.

"Our mindset is to win this game, to finish what we've started, to improve," said striker Olivier Giroud, whose deflected shot led to Mbappe's goal against Peru.

Giroud believes France have to be more efficient, offensively and defensively, after Les Bleus failed to sparkle in their first two matches.

"We need to be more efficient in attack, and in defence. We have to improve and find that 'killer instinct'.

"But let's not forget that Peru were a very good team, who had conceded only three goals in their last matches, who beat Croatia, Uruguay, Iceland. We suffered but to me, 1-0 is the best possible result."

After their opening game, some France players had questioned Deschamps' tactics, saying they had no clear idea of what they were supposed to do, but the game plan appeared to be clearer against Peru as Les Bleus defended well.

"With Antoine Griezmann, we had been tasked to block the Peru centre backs, with Antoine also having to be in the zone of their number 6," Giroud explained.

"Everything was very clear and well oiled, we had worked on it at training and were ready to be aggressive and determined, which is paramount in modern football."

France know that they can rely on midfielder N'Golo Kante, who was pivotal against Peru, winning 13 tackles and creating space for his teammates.

"He's got 15 lungs. Football is so much easier with players like him," said Paul Pogba.

YEKATERINBURG, June 21, 2018 (News Wires) - France moved back above Denmark to the top of Group C with an unconvincing 1-0 win over Peru.

After their fortuitous 2-1 win over Australia in the opening game, France had hoped to make a statement in Ekaterinburg but struggled to impress once again.

Their winning goal came when Kylian Mbappé tapped in Olivier Giroud’s deflected shot, as the Paris Saint-Germain forward became the youngest Frenchman to score at a World Cup finals.

Peru pushed for an equaliser late on but ultimately could do little to avoid slipping to a second consecutive 1-0 defeat.

YEKATERINBURG, June 21, 2018 (News Wires) - Thousands of red-shirted Peru supporters streamed through the streets of Yekaterinburg on Thursday, outnumbering France's by more than seven to one and looking to striker Paolo Guerrero to bring them an upset victory in their World Cup Group C clash.

Having lost 1-0 to Denmark in their first match, Peru's huge contingent of travelling fans is desperate for a win against one of the tournament favourites.

"It will be 3-0 to Peru because we have Guerrero," said Robert Amanqui Quispe.

Juan Carlos Rioja, from Lima, said he was confident of victory because of France's subdued performance in their first match against Australia, even though they won the game 2-1.

"What we expect is obviously to win. We expect France to play similar to their first game, which is not their best performance, so we can make it happen," he said.

Rainy Yekaterinburg produced one of its many June downpours less than three hours before kickoff, but rival fans engaged in a friendly competition to outchant each other as they headed across town on foot towards the stadium.

A spokeswoman for the city administration, Viktoria Mkrtchyan said fans had been arriving in Yekaterinburg throughout the day and authorities were expecting in total around 15 000 from Peru and 2 000 from France.

That compared with just over 6 500 Uruguayans and some 5 000 Egyptians for the first game in the city last week.

Many Peruvians had arrived without tickets and were expected to pack the fan zone, located away from the stadium in a city park, she said.

Appearing in the World Cup finals for the first time in 36 years, Peru has drawn phenomenal support despite its population of just 31 million and distance from the host country.

Fifa said before the tournament that 43 583 tickets had been sold to Peru fans, making them the seventh largest contingent from any country.

"We are really hopeful," said Peru fan Ivan Santanyana. "We must win the game today because you know what happened last game. We played really well, we missed a lot of chances and now there is no other thing to do. We need to win this."

MOSCOW, June 20, 2018 (News Wires) - French striker Antoine Griezmann has been passed fit for Thursday's World Cup Group C match with Peru as coach Didier Deschamps seeks to give his side a sharper attacking edge.

France, among the tournament favourites, opened with a sluggish 2-1 win over Australia.

"What we can see is that there were elements that were lacking and we did have difficulties at the front. That is very clear, and I did say so at the end of the match," Deschamps told reporters on the eve of the game in Yekaterinburg.

"The aim here is to make sure we do better tomorrow."

Deschamps said Griezmann, who opened the scoring with a penalty against Australia, was fully fit.

"He's well. There was a little concern with one of his ankles, which was a little bit swollen after the match. He wasn't at this best during the match, he had heavy legs," said the coach.

Dynamic midfielder N'Golo Kante also struggled in the first game: "This meant we weren't able to have enough dynamism in attack, and not enough efficiency."

Deschamps did not rule out starting with Olivier Giroud, even if his comments on the striker were ambivalent.

"The problem with Olivier is very often when he plays, he plays in his own register, he's not in the same register as the others. But when he's not there, we realise how useful he is," Deschamps said.

The 49-year-old, a member of France's 1998 World Cup winning team, said Peru should not be underestimated.

"They have excellent players up front, they have some very fast players," he said, singling out Paolo Guerrero and Jefferson Farfan.

BERLIN, June 19, 2018 (News Wires) - The leaders of Germany and France agreed Tuesday to create a Eurozone budget they hope will boost investment and provide a safety mechanism for the 19 nations using the euro currency, and also to seek a European solution to migration issues.

The announcement from German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Emmanuel Macron came after a meeting in Berlin to coordinate the two major powers' positions on the future of the European Union ahead of next week's EU summit.

Though Merkel had been lukewarm on Macron's idea of a European budget, in a declaration adopted by both leaders following the meeting they said they had agreed upon a proposal to establish one aimed at "competitiveness and convergence."

"It could finance new investments and come in substitution of national spending," they said.

Merkel said the two also agreed to enhance the effectiveness of the European Stability Mechanism, or ESM, which was established in 2012 to provide eurozone nations access to financial assistance in the event of crisis.

"We are opening a new chapter," she said.

Macron said details were intentionally being kept general on the budget idea at the moment, so that other member nations would be able to have their voices heard. He said the idea is for the budget to be in place by 2021 as a "backstop to ensure financial stability."

On migration, Merkel's insistence on finding common European solutions to reducing migrant numbers and other issues has met stiff resistance in her own conservative bloc, leading to a showdown over the last week with her interior minister who has insisted some categories of migrants should be turned away at Germany's borders.

On Monday, a potential crisis was averted after Interior Minister Horst Seehofer and his Bavaria-only Christian Social Union agreed to give Merkel two weeks to make deals with other European countries on migrants - specifically after the upcoming EU summit.

In their joint declaration, the leaders cautioned that "if member states started to act unilaterally, this would end up in an overall increase of migration into Europe."

Merkel told reporters she was still convinced that Europe needed to work together to combat the causes of the refugee flow by helping improve conditions in the countries of origin while at the same time increasing security at Europe's outer borders and cracking down on smugglers.

"Our goal remains a European answer to these challenges," she said.

Macron agreed to the need for "a European response to the challenge of migration," saying Europe must have "more capacity" to monitor its external borders but also more "solidarity mechanisms both outside and inside our borders" faced with migrant arrivals.

Both leaders said they wanted to increase personnel at Frontex, Europe's border security agency.

"We want more sovereignty and unity," Macron said. "We're at a moment of truth in Europe."

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