Egypt and Saudi Arabia committed to Yemen stability: FMs

Ahram Online , Thursday 23 Jul 2015

The Egyptian and Saudi foreign ministers hold a press conference in Riyadh, address regional challenges, Yemen

Adel Al-Jubair and Sameh Shoukri
Egypt’s Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukri with his Saudi counterpart, Adel Al-Jubair (Photo: Courtesy of Egypt’s Foreign Ministry)

Egypt’s Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry said Thursday Cairo and Riyadh are committed to stabilising the situation in Yemen and consolidating its independence.

Shoukry, at a press conference in Riyadh with his Saudi counterpart, Adel Al-Jubair, said that talks are ongoing regarding the roles of members in the Saudi-led Arab coalition against Houthi rebels in Yemen, adding that this is “normal”.

Al-Ahram news website had reported Wednesday that the meeting came in the light of "rumours" of disagreements between Saudi Arabia and its historical ally Egypt over certain key regional issues.

Shoukry's visit came on the back of a landmark visit to the Kingdom earlier this week by Khaled Meshaal, chief of the Palestinian Islamist movement Hamas, where he met Saudi King Salman during a pilgrimage to the Muslim holy city of Mecca.

Relations between Cairo and Hamas, an offshoot of Egypt's now-outlawed Muslim Brotherhood, have soured since the 2013 ouster of Islamist president Mohamed Morsi, with officials accusing the group of aiding militants at home.

There have been reports of rising contention between Cairo and Riyadh over the oil-rich Kingdom's efforts to reduce tensions with the Muslim Brotherhood allies. These efforts are reportedly being made to counter the influence of Iran, the Kingdom's arch rival in the region.

But Egypt's foreign minister has denied that his country and its powerful Arab allies are at odds.

Shoukry and Al-Jubair also spoke of “terrorism threats” in the region, highlighting coordinated “political, security and intelligence” efforts against extremist militants that have recently gained a foothold in the region.

Al-Jubair, for his part, said Saudi-Egyptian cooperation in combating terrorism is to the benefit of their peoples.

The talks on Thursday, attended by other top government officials from both countries, addressed the conflicts in Libya, Syria, and Yemen, and the Israeli-Palestinian peace process, Egypt's foreign ministry spokesman, Badr Abdel-Aty, said in a statement.

Badr added that the discussions also tackled the landmark nuclear deal between Iran and six world powers.

Egypt joined a Saudi-led Arab coalition against Houthi rebels in Yemen in March, sending its navy to Bab El-Mandab Strait.

Saudi Arabia continues to mount attacks to curb the Shia Houthi rebels with minor participation from the Egyptian navy and air force.

Saudi Arabia, the world's largest oil exporter, supported Egypt’s new government after the ouster of President Mohamed Morsi in 2013, sending billions of dollars in aid.

Egypt and Saudi Arabia also recently spearheaded calls for the formation of a joint Arab military force.

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