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Monday, 24 April 2017

El Sisi meets with King Salman, negotiations on joint projects back on track

President Abdel Fattah El Sisi met with Saudi Arabia’s King Salman in Riyadhon Sunday amid much fanfare and celebration. El Sisi was also received by Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman along with a number of princes, ministers and senior officials, Saudi Press Agency reports. Beyond talk of strengthening bilateral ties and coordinating on regional policy, the King and the president appeared to have primarily delved into two main issues: the need for better cooperation on counterterrorism and standing together against interference in the internal affairs of regional countries, according to a statement from Ittihadiya.

Salman has accepted El Sisi’s offer for a return visit. Yesterday’s meeting is receiving widespread coverage from both the local and international press, with most of the foreign press, including the AFP, noting how far the two countries have come since relations hit a rough spot last year. Both sides made a point to stress that relations were never on the rocks. Saudi’s Foreign Minister Adel bin Ahmed Al Jubeir denied a rift had taken place, according to AMAY. He added at a presser with Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry that relations between the two countries are impeccable and will be always stronger in the future, the Saudi Gazette reports.

The Egyptian-Saudi Business Council discussed turning pledges of USD 25 bn worth of investment into reality, Faisal Islamic Bank of Egypt chief Abdel Hameed Abou Moussa, who heads the Egyptian side of the council, told Al Mal. Salman made the pledges during his visit to Egypt in April 2016. He added that Egypt is looking to expand its exports to Saudi Arabia, with plans to increase exports of ceramics, porcelain and electrical appliances, Al Borsa reports. He spoke reassuringly that that the King Salman bridge which would link both countries will be constructed in three years and will pass through the disputed island of Tiran. This was the only public mention of the island sovereignty handover agreement last April, a case which remains in dispute in Egyptian courts.

Also coming out of the trip: A renewed commitment on the linking of the Egyptian and Saudi electricity grids. The two sides will look to tender bids for the project on 3 May and a contract could be awarded as early as September, the head of the Egyptian Electricity Transmission Company, Gamal Abdel Rahim, tells Al Borsa.

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