Riyadh, Asharq Al-Awsat—”Malicious” attempts aimed at damaging Saudi–Egyptian ties are doomed to fail, Egypt’s ambassador to the Kingdom said, as the leaders of the two Arab states met in Riyadh on Sunday.
Speaking to Asharq Al-Awsat, ambassador Afifi Abdel Wahab said: “Regardless if there were factions maliciously seeking to roil relations between Egypt and Saudi Arabia, I can confirm that in no way will they affect ties between the two countries.”
The official’s comments came on the back of a brief visit made by Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi to Riyadh on Sunday.
On arrival at Riyadh’s King Khalid International Airport, Sisi was received by Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman Bin Abdulaziz, Deputy Prime Minister and Crown Prince Muqrin Bin Abdulaziz, the Governor of Riyadh Prince Faisal Bin Bandar Bin Abdulaziz, and Second Deputy Prime Minister and Deputy Crown Prince Muhammad Bin Naif, among other officials.
The two leaders held official talks at the Royal Palace in Riyadh where they discussed bilateral relations, means of cooperation, and the most important events in the region.
A statement released by the Egyptian presidency statement quoted Sisi as saying during the meeting that the “current situation” in the Middle East required strengthening cooperation between the countries of the region.
Sisi also praised the efforts and the role of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia in “supporting different Arab and Islamic causes,” the statement added.
On the regional level, the talks covered the deteriorating crises in several Arab countries, including Yemen, Syria and Libya, with which Egypt shares a long border.
Speaking of the current crisis in Yemen, the Egyptian president expressed his “support for the Gulf Cooperation Council’s [GCC] initiative [on Yemen] and the need for maintaining the integrity of [its territories] and the unity of its people,” the statement added.
On Syria, President Sisi said Egypt’s main concern was to safeguard the Syrian state and protect its institutions from collapse.
Sisi called for “a comprehensive political solution for the [Syrian] crisis to end the suffering of the Syrian people, maintain the unity and integrity of the Syrian territories, and prevent acts of violence and terrorism from spreading to Syria’s neighboring countries.”
Speaking of Libya, where Egypt recently launched a series of airstrikes on Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) targets, Sisi said the country’s current efforts did “not run against Egypt’s support of the UN Envoy’s efforts to find a solution for the crisis through dialogue.”
The Egyptian leader also called for strengthening efforts to cut off financial and military supplies to extremist groups in the region and highlighted the need for backing Libya’s state institutions, most importantly the elected [Tobruk-based] parliament and the Libyan army.
From the Egyptian side, the talks were attended by Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shokri, director of Egyptian General Intelligence Khaled Fawzi, and Cairo’s ambassador to Riyadh, among others.
In comments to Asharq Al-Awsat, Ahmed Al-Qattan, the Kingdom’s ambassador to Egypt, said Sisi’s visit came at a critical time in the region, with a state of instability sweeping across several Arab countries.
Speaking to Asharq Al-Awsat on the condition of anonymity, a senior Arab official said Egypt will be submitting to the Arab League during its forthcoming summit—set to take place in late March—a draft resolution to form a joint Arab force to confront instability and fight terrorism.
The source added that the Egyptian presidency had so far received a positive response towards the move from several Arab countries.
Fahd Al-Zayabi contributed reporting from Riyadh.