Saudi ambassador visits pro-military Egyptian presidential contender
Ahram Online, Monday 21 May 2012
Saudi Ambassador visited the first non-Islamist candidate, Ahmed Shafiq, after meeting liberal Salafist-backed Abul-Fotouh, Brotherhood candidate Morsi and Islamic thinker El-Awa

Saudi Arabian Ambassador to Egypt Ahmed Al-Qattan visitspresidential hopeful, Lieutenant General Ahmed Shafiq, Mubarak's last prime minister, at his presidential campaign headquarters on Monday.

Shafiq is the first non-Islamist presidential hopeful Al-Qattan meets.

According to the press statement by the Saudi embassy released on Monday, the oil-rich Kindgom "is equally neutral towards all presidential candidates. The Kingdom wholeheartedly hopes to see Egypt restore its security and stability and to further develop the deep-rooted bilateral relations."

In the last two weeks, Saudi diplomat met Islamist-leaning Egyptian presidential contenderMohamed Selim El-Awa, Muslim Brotherhood candidateMohamed Morsiand relatively liberal ex-Muslim Brotherhood member, now backed by SalafistsAbdel-Moneim Abul-Fotouh.

According to Al-Ahram Political and Strategic Studies Centre, Shafiq is first in their presidential poll, whereas Al-Baseera Centre has him ranked second in their poll ahead of the vote for president.

Egypt's first post-Mubarakpresidential elections will be held on 23 and 24 May, with a runoff round on 16 and 17 June if no single candidate wins an outright majority. Egypt's next president will be formally named on 21 June.

Tensions between Egypt and Saudi Arabia escalated last month following reports that an Egyptian lawyer had been sentenced to one year in prisonfor defaming the Saudi monarch.