King Salman arrives in Egypt for five-day visit

2016-04-07 15:41
King Salman gestures during a session at the Shura Council. (Saudi press agency, AP)

King Salman gestures during a session at the Shura Council. (Saudi press agency, AP)

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Cairo - Saudi King Salman arrived on Thursday in Cairo for a five-day visit in a show of support for Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, with the leaders due to sign a raft of investment deals.

Saudi Arabia has been the key backer of Sisi since the then-military chief in 2013 overthrew his Islamist predecessor Mohamed Morsi, whose Muslim Brotherhood movement was viewed with suspicion by Riyadh.

It has pumped billions of dollars in aid and investment into Egypt's battered economy, and the two heads of state are expected to ink more investment agreements on Friday amounting to about $1.7bn.

Live footage on state television showed the 80-year-old Salman ascending on an escalator at Cairo airport, with Sisi present to greet him.

The two will hold meetings later in the day and on Friday, when they will sign 14 agreements that include a $1.5bn deal to invest in the Sinai Peninsula, an Egyptian government official said.

Salman is expected to address the Egyptian parliament on Sunday, state media reported.

Egyptian media lavished coverage on the visit, with state television welcoming Salman to his "second country" and playing celebratory music as he touched down in Cairo.

The fulsome welcome came after months of reports in both Saudi and Egyptian press of strained ties between the two countries over Egypt's unwillingness to participate fully in Saudi Arabia's war in Yemen.

Egypt had announced it would join the Saudi-led war against Iran-backed rebels with ground troops if needed, but appears to have baulked at the prospect of becoming mired in the conflict.

However, both leaders' reliance on one another appeared to outweigh any misgivings.

Saudi Arabia has played a key role in propping up Egypt's economy, following the devastation to its tourism industry caused by years of political turmoil and jihadist attacks.

For Saudi Arabia, which has regional ambitions opposed to those of its arch rival Iran, keeping Egypt under its aegis is crucial.

Read more on:    abdel fattah al-sisi  |  king salman  |  egypt  |  north africa

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