Egypt′s el-Sissi visits Saudi Arabia in bid to mend ties | News | DW | 23.04.2017
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Egypt's el-Sissi visits Saudi Arabia in bid to mend ties

Ties between the two long-time allies were strained last year over differences on Syria, and a pair of islands. The two sides appear to have agreed to disagree over Syria, and the islands dispute may be resolved as well.

Egyptian President Abdel el-Sissi received a king's welcome when he landed in the Saudi Arabian capital, Riyadh, Sunday to boost bilateral relations after months of tension.

Saudi Arabia's King Salman greeted the Egyptian president when he stepped off the plane at the airport, before hosting him for lunch, according to the official Saudi Press Agency.

Subsequently, the two leaders discussed a range of issues ​including "regional and international issues of common interest," according to the office of the Egyptian president.

The statement, issued before the meeting, added that "the struggle against terrorism which threatens security and stability" in the region and beyond would top their agenda.

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After their initial talks, the Saudi news agency said the two men "reviewed the strong and brotherly relations as well as cooperation between their two countries" and regional issues.

They agreed to "develop relations between the two countries in all fields," an unnamed spokesman for el-Sissi said, according to state-owned newspaper al-Ahram.

El-Sissi and Salman met 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.

Their March 29 encounter came days after Egypt announced that Saudi energy giant Aramco had resumed delivering shipments of petroleum products after abruptly suspending them in October.

At odds over Syria

Aramco had halted agreed monthly deliveries of 700,000 tons of petroleum products without explanation, but the disruption came after Egypt backed a Russian-drafted UN Security Council resolution on Syria that Riyadh opposed.

Moscow is Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's leading patron, Saudi Arabia is an integral supporter of the rebels battling Assad's regime.

Ties between Cairo and Riyadh were further strained last year over el-Sissi's agreement to give Saudi Arabia two Red Sea islands - Tiran and Sanafir - off the Arabian peninsula.

Sissi intended the island give-away as a gesture of goodwill towards the House of Saud. But it immediately provoked outrage in Egypt, and was subsequently blocked by a court ruling,signed during a visit by Salman to Cairo last year.

But earlier this month, another Egyptian court ruling struck down the previous court's decision, describing it as invalid. Sissi claims the islands were Saudi territory and had been leased to Egypt in the 1950s.

After el-Sissi toppled Islamist president Mohamed Morsi in 2013, when Sissi was head of the Egyptian army, Saudi Arabia supported Egypt with billions of dollars in aid.

Riyadh opposes the now outlawed Muslim Brotherhood to which Morsi belongs.

Salman has reportedly accepted an invitation from Sissi to visit Egypt at the "earliest possible opportunity."

bik/jlw (AFP, AP, dpa)

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