Egypt’s Sisi in Saudi Arabia for talks with new king
RIYADH // Egyptian president Abdel Fattah El Sisi visited Saudi Arabia on Sunday for his first policy meeting with King Salman ahead of a conference aimed at shoring up financial support from Gulf states for Egypt’s battered economy.
The two leaders discussed Mr El Sisi’s proposal for a joint anti-terrorism force to tackle regional threats, particularly from Yemen, Libya and Syria, said a Saudi official.
In an interview with the pan-Arab Al Arabiya news channel this weekend, Mr El Sisi said the force would not be used for attacking “but for defending the security of our countries”.
He said Jordan has expressed interest in creating such a force.
Egyptian troops are already deployed on Saudi Arabia’s border with Iraq to help defend it against radical militants.
King Salman broke official protocol to meet Mr El Sisi at the airport, a pointed mark of favour towards the Egyptian president at a time when some Arab media have questioned if the close ties that existed between the two states under the late King Abdullah would continue.
Mr El Sisi spent about four hours in the kingdom, a key organiser of the investment conference scheduled to take place later this month in Egypt’s Sharm El Sheikh.
The Egyptian leader’s last visit to Saudi Arabia was in January to offer condolences after the death of King Abdullah. Under the late king’s rule, Saudi Arabia and other Gulf nations gave Egypt billions of dollars in aid after Mr El Sisi, then a military general, overthrew former president Mohammed Morsi in 2013.
King Salman is scheduled to meet with Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Monday.
* Associated Press, Reuters