Egypt PM's visit to Saudi Arabia heralds breakthrough in relations

Ahram Online , Thursday 21 Apr 2011

Prime Minister Essam Sharaf’s visits to the United Arab Emirates and Qatar have been cancelled but high hopes run on his trip to Saudi Arabia

Egyptian Prime Minister Essam Sharaf will pay his first visit to Saudi Arabia, his first since being appointed. He was meant to take in Qatar and the United Arab Emirates before it became clear that the two leaders, Amir Hamad bin Khalifa al Thani and Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, will both be away from their respective countries. These trips have been postponed.

According to senior diplomatic sources, Egyptian Foreign Minister Nabil El-Arabi achieved a breakthrough in Egypt-Saudi relations yesterday. He conveyed to the Saudi government Egypt’s need to find a solution to the situation of ousted president Hosni Mubarak that takes into consideration the anger most Egyptians harbour for him.

It is also expected that Saudi Arabia will shortly announce a massive economic support package for Egypt.

Also on Sharaf’s agenda is the matter of an Egyptian nominee for the position of Arab League secretary-general. Saudi Arabia supports the nomination of Mustafa El-Fiqi which is not a popular choice among many Egyptian political circles. The discussions will revolve around finding an acceptable candidate for all – a process that needs to be finalised before 15 May when the Foreign Ministers Meeting takes place at the League to finalise the matter of the appointment.

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