Saudi-Egypt ties at their best: Ambassador Qattan

Ahram Online , Thursday 6 Aug 2015

Ahmed Kattan
Saudi Arabia’s ambassador to Egypt, Ahmed Kattan (Reuters)

Saudi Arabia's ambassador to Egypt, Ahmed Qattan, played down media reports suggesting that ties between both countries were strained adding that bilateral relations are at their best, Egyptian state news agency MENA reported on Tuesday.

The visit of Hamas' leader Khaled Meshaal to Saudi Arabia on 15 July fueled fresh speculation that the oil-rich kingdom's relationship with Egypt had become strained, though Qattan said that his visit was to perform Umrah (a non-mandatory pilgrimage). Qattan also said that Meshaal's meeting with Saudi King Salman bin Abdulaziz was "by chance."  

Hamas, the ruler of Gaza, is an ideological offshoot of Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood -- from which ousted Islamist president Mohamed Morsi hails from -- and was declared a terrorist organisation following its downfall in 2013. Egypt's relations with Hamas have been strained ever since.

Ahead of the economic conference in Sharm El-Sheikh in March, Qattan said during an interview he gave to reporters at his embassy on Tuesday, there had also been speculation that Saudi Arabia's participation in the event would not be significant.

The allegations were refuted in light of the fact of strong Saudi support for Egypt, he said. He added that Saudi Arabia designated $4bn to Egypt following the economic conference to support Egypt's economy that has been suffering following the 2011 uprising.

Qattan also stressed that there will be an intensive increase in Saudi investments in Egypt witnessed soon, and that relations between both countries have been strengthened since the conference.

Last Thursday, Egyptian President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi and Saudi Defence Minister Mohammed Bin Salman issued what they named the "Cairo Declaration," outlining six facets of cooperation between Egypt and Saudi Arabia, including "enhancing the joint cooperation and investment between the two countries in the fields of energy, electricity, and transportation."

Saudi economic delegations have already started to arrive in Cairo for talks with the Egyptian government over investment projects that will be implemented in Egypt pursuant to the Cairo Declaration, Qattan said.

The Cairo Declaration, Qattan continued, came as a surprise to everyone and proves that bilateral ties are at their best, despite fresh allegations that relations had taken a turn for the worse.

He stressed that the Cairo Declaration also includes many projects that will be carried out in the Suez Canal Zone.  

On Thursday, Egypt is to inaugurate the new Suez Canal -- a new 35-kilometer waterway which will decrease shipping times and increase revenue -- in a celebration that is set to be attended by a large number of heads of state and dignitaries.


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