x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 21 July 2017

Reports about Egypt and UAE 'untrue'

Egyptian and UAE government officials deny reports that relations between the two countries have soured over Iran in the aftermath of Egyptian unrest.

ABU DHABI // UAE and Egyptian officials have denied reports that relations between the countries have cooled since Egypt's unrest, particularly in relation to the nation's diplomatic tone with Iran.

The Egyptian prime minister, Dr Essam Sharaf, had been scheduled to visit the UAE this week. The delay prompted speculation he had postponed his arrival over disagreements between the countries over the Islamic republic.

Egypt has said diplomatic relations that had been severed for decades would restart with Iran.

The move drew concern in the Gulf, as the deposed Egyptian president, Hosni Mubarak, was seen as a counterbalance to growing Iranian influence in the region. The GCC states are in a diplomatic stand-off with Iran, which they accuse of fomenting unrest in Bahrain and spying on Kuwait.

"What is being said about disagreements with Egypt and the UAE is far from the truth, and the visit was postponed due to disagreements on the timing of the start of the visit," Dr Sharaf said on the Egyptian cabinet's Facebook page. "I will conduct a Gulf tour soon that includes the UAE, Bahrain and Oman."

"There is no truth in news reports that said there is outside pressure from Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates on Egypt recently," said a statement published on the Egyptian Armed Forces' Facebook page.

Mohammed al Dhaheri, the UAE ambassador to Cairo, said relations between the countries were as strong as ever and that they would flourish in the coming period. He also attributed the rescheduling of the visit to timing problems.

The Egyptian ambassador to the UAE, Tamer Mansour, said the visit was rescheduled because the prime minister had to attend events and celebrations in Egypt.

Dr Sharaf is also engaged in mediation talks with tribal representatives in Sinai.

Mr Mansour said the visit to the UAE would be important for the Egyptian government in terms of economic and financial relations.

"Egypt now has a new government open to investments, and the UAE has stood by Egypt for many years," he said. "The UAE is a Gulf country with a strong economy and investments, so who is better than it?" he added.

Mr Mansour added there had been no update regarding the former Egyptian president's financial assets in the UAE. "If anything was found or frozen, I should be officially informed about it," he said.

hdajani@thenational.ae