By Marina Makary
Egyptian President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi met Saudi King Salman Bin Abdulaziz Sunday to discuss and promote bilateral ties between both countries, state media reported.
The official visit is Al-Sisi’s first since King Salman acceded to the throne after the death of King Abdullah. In addition to congratulating King Salman, Al-Sisi aims to discuss the situation in Yemen and ongoing threats in the Middle East. The visit comes ahead of the Economic Summit in March to encourage businesses to invest in the Egyptian economy.
According to a presidential statement Sunday, Al-Sisi highlighted that Egypt’s efforts in fighting terrorism in Libya do not conflict with efforts of the United Nations (UN) to find a solution to the crisis through dialogue. He also stressed the importance of “supporting the official Libyan institutions, especially the parliament and the army, to achieve security and stability for the Libyan people”.
Prior to the visit, Al-Sisi spoke to Al-Arabiya News channel, saying: “The relationship between Egypt and Saudi Arabia, and Egypt and its brothers in the Gulf, has been strong and stable for years.” .
During the interview, Al-Sisi reinforced the need for a joint Arab force, “not for attacking, but for defending the security of our countries”. Al-Sisi also clarified that his presence in Saudi Arabia at the same time with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s visit to the Kingdom is a mere “coincidence”.
Taha Sayed Taha, former deputy to the Head of the Military Jurisdiction, said that Saudi Arabia has always been “the first to calm the situation between Egypt and Qatar”. He believes that the meeting may include attempts to shed light on the key points in the relationship between both countries [Egypt and Qatar].
Since the ouster of former president Mohamed Morsi in July 2013, Saudi Arabia has been a strong backer of Egypt, both financially and morally. The Gulf kingdom, a long-time critic of the Muslim Brotherhood, formally declared the Brotherhood a terrorist organisation in March 2014. It has also constantly helped Egypt’s ailing economy with aids and loans.