Egypt's Sisi visits Saudi Arabia as tensions ease

24.04.2017

Egyptian President Abdul Fattah al-Sisi received a royal welcome from King Salman as he landed Sunday in Saudi Arabia for a visit to boost ties after months of tension.

Salman, surrounded by key Saudi officials, greeted Sisi as he stepped off the plane in the capital Riyadh and hosted him for lunch, the official Saudi Press Agency said.

The two Arab leaders then had talks during which they "reviewed the strong and brotherly relations as well as cooperation between their two countries" and regional issues, the agency said.

The Egyptian presidency announced the visit in a statement on Friday, saying Sisi's trip was in response to an invitation by Salman and aimed at "bolstering strategic relations between the two countries".

It said Salman and Sisi would discuss "regional and international issues of common interest".

"The struggle against terrorism which threatens security and stability" in the region and beyond would top their agenda, it said.

Sisi met Salman on the sidelines of an Arab League summit in Jordan last month to break the ice after months of apparent tensions between the two allies. That encounter on 29 March came days after Egypt announced that Saudi energy giant Aramco had resumed delivering shipments of petroleum products after abruptly suspending them in October.

Aramco had halted agreed monthly deliveries of 700,000 tonnes of petroleum products without explanation.

But the halt came after Egypt voted in favour of a Russian-drafted UN Security Council resolution on Syria that Saudi Arabia strongly opposed. Moscow is a staunch supporter of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad while Riyadh is a key backer of the rebels who are fighting his regime.

Ties between Cairo and Riyadh had also suffered after an agreement to hand over to Saudi Arabia two Red Sea islands, signed during a visit by Salman to Cairo last year, was blocked by a court ruling. Earlier this month, an Egyptian court ruled that the decision to block the transfer of Tiran and Sanafir to Saudi Arabia was invalid.

Cairo has said the islands were Saudi territory which had been leased to Egypt in the 1950s.

Saudi Arabia supported Egypt with billions of dollars in aid after Sisi toppled Islamist president Mohammed Morsi in 2013 when the president was head of the Egyptian army. Saudi Arabia is opposed to the now outlawed Muslim Brotherhood to which Morsi belongs.    (AFP)

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