04/24/2017, 09.12
SAUDI ARABIA - EGYPT
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Al-Sisi meets King Salman to relaunch relations between Cairo and Riyadh

Tensions shelved, the Egyptian president receives a warm welcome when he arrives in the Saudi capital. The two leaders speak of "strong and fraternal" bonds and intention to "strengthen strategic relations". In addition to the economy, the unresolved knots of the fight against terrorism and control of the controversial islands.

Riyadh (AsiaNews / Agencies) – Now that recent tensions have been shelved, Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi arrived yesterday in Saudi Arabia on an official visit receiving a royal welcome and all the honors reserved to the heads of state of friendly nations. Waiting for him in Saudi kingdom king Salman, with whom he had a face to face talks aimed at relaunching relations between the two most influential Sunni countries in the Arab world.

The monarch, surrounded by the highest political and institutional powers of the kingdom, welcomed al-Sisi at the airport, an unusual practice for Salman and reserved only to the personalities closest to Riyadh's leadership. Next, an official lunch between the two delegations.

In the context of the official meeting, the two leaders discussed the "strong and fraternal relations" and "cooperation" between the two nations at length. References to the main regional issues still unresolved, such as the war in Syria and the fight against terrorism, were inevitable.

On the eve of the trip, the Egyptian president stated that the visit was a response to King Salman's invitation and intended to "strengthen the strategic relationship" between Egypt and Saudi Arabia. Among the hot spots "the fight against terrorism," continues al-Sisi, considered a "threat to security and stability" in the region.

The two leaders had met last month on the sidelines of the Arab League summit in Jordan to try to ease the tensions that followed the controversial cession of the islands from Cairo to Riyadh. A decision that had raised strong internal discord in Egypt, as well as the protest of the nationalist wing, and intensified relations with the influential Middle Eastern ally. At the beginning of the month, an Egyptian tribunal overturned a previous ruling stopping the transfer of the Tiran and Sanafir islands to Saudi Arabia.

Today's visit should also facilitate the unblocking of agreements (24 in total) signed by the two governments in April last year, during a visit by King Salman to Egypt. These are investments worth $ 25 billion in the Suez Canal area, on the north coast of Egypt and in the resorts of Sharm el Sheikh and Hurghada in the Red Sea. The divisions of these last months had in fact "frozen" the agreements.

Meanwhile, Saudi oil giant Aramco has resumed supply of crude oil to Egypt, suspended last October at the most critical moment in relations between Egypt and Saudi Arabia. The move followed Egypt’s vote in favor of a Russian UN Security Council resolution on Syria, against which opposed by Riyadh.

The Syrian conflict remains perhaps the most controversial knot in the balance of power in the Middle East region. Moscow is, along with Tehran, the most loyal ally of President Bashar al-Assad, while Riyadh also supports the armed struggle against the Damascus government - both economically and militarily. A galaxy of fighting groups, movements and militias, some of which are close to radical Islamic ideology. Among these extremist groups, there are some who benefit from the more or less direct support of the Saudis.

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