Egypt's Sisi awards Saudi King Salman 'Order of the Nile' honour

Mostafa Ali , Friday 8 Apr 2016,
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Sisi and Salman
Egypt's President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi meets Saudi Arabia's King Salman in Cairo, Egypt, in this handout photo received April 7, 2016 (Reuters)

Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi bestowed the Order of the Nile medal, Egypt's highest state honour, on King Salman bin Abdulaziz of Saudi Arabia in Cairo on Friday.

The medal is granted for exceptional services to the nation, and is often awarded to heads of friendly foreign states. Mauritanian President Mohamed Ould Abdel-Aziz received the honour during his visit to Cairo last week.

King Salman, who is currently in the second day of his five-day visit to Egypt, met with El-Sisi on Saturday in the Ittihadeya presidential palace to the receive the honour, amid heavy media and presence.

The king has signed a number of economic accords, including the framework for a number of loans signed in March, worth over $20 billion.

On Friday, the king was greeted on arrival at Cairo International Airport by El-Sisi. Security was tight in the capital.

'Historic' visit

According to Saudi ambassador to Cairo Ahmed Qattan, the delegation accompanying the Salman includes 18 ministers and 25 Saudi princes.

The ambassador described it as the biggest such delegation to a foreign country in the history of the Saudi kingdom.

Salman is expected to receive the head of the Coptic Orthodox Church, Pope Tawadros II, and Al-Azhar's top cleric, Ahmed El-Tayeb, at his residence in Cairo on Friday.

The visit will be the first such in the history of the Coptic Orthodox Church, according to spokesperson Father Boules Halim.

On Saturday, the king expected to visit Al-Azhar and then place a foundation stone for the residential area for expatriate students. Qattan also said that more investment deals between Saudi businessmen and Egypt will be announced on Saturday.

The Saudi king is also expected to visit Egypt's parliament on Sunday.

Deputy head of the parliament Soliman Wahdan added that Salman may give a speech during his what he described as a "historic visit" to parliament.

The Egyptian presidency described Salman's visit to Cairo as "crowning the close brotherly ties between the two countries."

Saudi Foreign Minister Adel Bin Ahmed Al-Jubeir also described the visit as "historic."

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