File Photo: Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi (R) receives Saudi King Salman (L) upon his arrival ahead of the Arab Summit in Sharm el-Sheikh. (Reuters)
Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry said Cairo and Riyadh are preparing for a visit by Saudi Arabia's king Salman bin Abdulaziz, amid reports that the two Arab allies are at odds.
"We are working, in Egypt and Saudi Arabia, to arrange for an upcoming visit by the Custodian [of the Two Holy Mosques] to our country," Shoukry told pan-Arab daily Asharq Al-Awsat on Wednesday.
Shoukry, who this week made a brief visit to Europe, added that a date has not been set for the visit, which will be the Salman's second since assuming the throne of the Gulf kingdom in January.
Salman first visited Egypt in March to participate in an Arab League summit in the Red Sea resort of Sharm El-Sheikh.
Saudi Arabia, the world's largest oil exporter, has emerged as a key backer of Egypt's president Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi and his government following the ouster of Islamist president Mohamed Morsi in July 2013, providing Cairo with billions of dollars in aid.
There have been reports of rising tension between Cairo and Riyadh over the oil-rich kingdom's reported rapprochement with the regional allies of the Muslim Brotherhood, which was outlawed by the Egyptian state. 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 major Arab ally are at loggerheads.
He said, "There is nothing between Egypt and Saudi Arabia but compatibility and shared visions, but each of us has a role and a way of handling issues."
Egypt is dealing with the kingdom with "absolute transparency, considering ties between the two close allies as 'surpassing any other relations'," he added.
Arab leaders agreed in March to form a joint military force to counter security threats in the region and to intervene in troubled areas.
They were due to ratify a protocol for the creation of the force in August but Saudi Arabia, along with other countries, requested that the meeting of defense ministers from the Arab League's member states be postponed.
Shoukry said the countries, which included Bahrain, Kuwait, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates and Iraq, called for the deferral in order to have more time to research the matter.
"That's a measure of the attention being afforded to dealing with this issue."
He added although there is no firm timeframe for the force's creation, what is key is to "create this important element of Arab security in a manner that achieves interest."
A resolution initially adopted by the leaders set a four-month timeframe for the 22-member states of the Arab League to decide on the composition of the joint force and the rules guiding its potential deployment.
El-Sisi has attended numerous discussions in Saudi Arabia on multiple visits since entering office in June 2014. El-Sisi and Salman held their first in-depth discussions about bilateral ties and regional issues in Riyadh in March.
The Egyptian president also paid a brief visit to the Gulf Monarchy in May.