French President Emmanuel Macron has invited Egypt's president to attend this year's G7 summit being held in the European country despite Cairo's grim human rights record.
Macron extended the invitation to Abdel Fattah al-Sisi during a phone conversation between the leaders, Sisi's spokesman said in a statement over the weekend.
It added that the leaders also discussed regional issues, in particular the conflict in Libya.
The move comes after the French leader met with Sisi in Cairo in January, where the human rights situation in Egypt was at the centre of talks.
Their different visions were on show at a joint news conference where Macron said respect of freedoms was inseparable from stability while Sisi said security was the priority for Egypt's 100-million population.
"Real stability depends on the vitality of society," Macron told reporters, with Sisi standing by his side.
"Stability and lasting peace go hand in hand with respect for individual freedoms, dignity of everyone and the rule of law."
Sisi presented his own vision for Egypt, saying that the lives of its people should be improved through economic, social and religious reforms.
"You are asking me about the rights of bloggers, and I am asking you how shall I find jobs for them?" Sisi told the news conference.
Sisi rose to power after leading the military ouster of Islamist president Mohamed Morsi in 2013 following mass protests against his rule.
Since then, Egyptian authorities have carried out a severe crackdown on Morsi's supporters, jailing many and trying them on terror-related charges.
The clampdown later swept up journalists, bloggers as well as secular, liberal and leftist activists.
Heavy restrictions have been imposed on protests and hundreds of websites critical of the government blocked under Sisi's rule.
This article has been adapted from its original source.
Copyright @ 2019 The New Arab.