x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 21 November 2017

Egyptian foreign minister to tour Gulf in push for political solution

Mr Shoukry will carry a message from president Abdel Fattah El Sisi to the leaders of Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Bahrain, Oman and Jordan

Egyptian foreign minister Sameh Shoukry at a meeting with Russian foreign minister Sergey Lavrov in Moscow. Sergei Chirikov / EPA
Egyptian foreign minister Sameh Shoukry at a meeting with Russian foreign minister Sergey Lavrov in Moscow. Sergei Chirikov / EPA

Egypt's foreign minister Sameh Shoukry will embark on a Gulf tour to push for a political solution as tensions rise between Saudi Arabia, Iran and Lebanon's Hizbollah, his ministry said on Saturday.

Mr Shoukry, whose government is closely allied with Saudi Arabia, will carry a message from president Abdel Fattah El Sisi to the leaders of Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Bahrain and Oman as well as Jordan during his three-day visit starting Sunday, it said in a statement.

Hizbollah chief Hassan Nasrallah has accused Saudi Arabia of declaring war and detaining Lebanon's prime minister Saad Hariri, who resigned last week in a statement from Riyadh citing Iran's "grip" on Lebanon.

Saudi Arabia, which in turn accused Hizbollah and Iran of declaring war against the kingdom, urged its citizens to leave Lebanon.

Mr Shoukry "will affirm Egypt's firm position on the need to preserve Arab unity", the ministry statement said.

He will also "affirm Egypt's policy... that pushes for political solutions to crises and the need to spare the region any more turmoil and polarisation".

Egypt, which has the most powerful Arab army and has depended on Saudi Arabia for aid, has supported the Gulf country against Iran.

Mr Sisi told a press conference on Thursday that Egypt fully supported Gulf countries, whose security he called a "red line".

But he also urged caution. "I am not for war. We have had our experience with war," he said.

"The region faces enough turmoil already. We should approach [the tensions] extremely cautiously," he added.