CAIRO    -  French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian was in Egypt Sunday hoping to ease tensions following the publishing of controversial cartoons of the Prophet Mohammed that sparked ire in the Arab world.

Le Drian met with President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry and will also meet Ahmed al-Tayeb, the grand imam of Al-Azhar, Egypt's highest Muslim authority.

Le Drian's highly anticipated meeting with Tayeb, head of Al-Azhar -- considered the foremost religious institution for Sunni Muslims -- will tackle French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo's decision in September to reprint the cartoons.

Last month Tayeb denounced remarks by French President Emmanuel Macron of "Islamist separatism" as "racist" and spreading "hate speech".

"I have emphasised, and emphasise here the deep respect we have for Islam," said the French minister during a press conference with Shoukry.

"What we are fighting is terrorism, it is the hijacking of religion, it is extremism," he added, noting he came "to explain, if need be, this fight, and at the same time the fight for respect for the freedom of belief". Demonstrations erupted in several Muslim-majority countries after Macron defended the right to publish cartoons of the Prophet Mohammed, seen by many as insulting and an attack on Islam.