You are here

Saudi crown prince begins first foreign tour in Egypt

By AFP - Mar 05,2018 - Last updated at Mar 05,2018

Egyptian President Abdel Fattah Al Sisi (right) welcomes Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad Bin Salman at Cairo airport on Sunday (Reuters photo)

CAIRO, Egypt — Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman landed in the Egyptian capital on Sunday at the start of his first foreign tour as heir to the throne.

A beaming Egyptian President Abdel Fattah Al Sisi greeted the prince at Cairo airport after he descended the red-carpeted steps of his plane.

The head of Prince Mohammed's office, Bader Al Asaker, tweeted that the prince's plane was escorted by Egyptian fighter jets when it entered Egypt's airspace.

Prince Mohammed will hold meetings with Sisi, a key regional ally, and other officials in Egypt before flying off to Britain on Wednesday and then later this month the United States.

Saudi Arabia views Egypt as a cornerstone of regional stability, after the former army chief Sisi overthrew his Islamist predecessor Mohamed Morsi in 2013.

Riyadh viewed Morsi's Muslim Brotherhood with suspicion and at one point briefly recalled its ambassador from Cairo during his turbulent year in power.

It has since showered Cairo with aid to prop up the country's economy, in a relationship that has led to some controversy in Egypt.

In 2015, during a visit by King Salman to Cairo, the two countries agreed on the transfer of two Red Sea islands to Saudi Arabia, sparking protests in Egypt.

Sisi ratified the deal last year, and Egypt's top court annulled lower court rulings for and against the treaty on the eve of the crown prince's arrival.

Prince Mohammed's visit comes ahead of Egypt's presidential polls in late March, with Sisi expected to win a second four-year term.

The visit "will be interpreted as proof of Saudi support for Sisi to remain as the president of Egypt", Mostafa Kamel Al Sayed, a political science professor at Cairo University, told AFP.

Cairo and Riyadh have maintained close ties, although Egypt has signaled a lack of enthusiasm for Saudi regional policy, both on the Yemen war and a potential escalation with Iran.

But it is among a bloc of Arab nations that joined a Saudi-led boycott since June of Qatar.

The crown prince’s tour also aims to court investors and comes after a tumultuous period that has seen a military shake-up and a royal purge in Saudi Arabia, part of his sweeping power play.

Prince Mohammed is already seen as the country’s de facto ruler controlling the major levers of government.

up
131 users have voted.

Add new comment

CAPTCHA
This question is for testing whether or not you are a human visitor and to prevent automated spam submissions.
12 + 0 =
Solve this simple math problem and enter the result. E.g. for 1+3, enter 4.

Opinion

Newsletter

Get top stories and blog posts emailed to you each day.