Cairo, Riyadh reiterate rejection of interference by Iran and Qatar, Saudi calls on countries to respect Egypt's Nile water rights

Ahram Online , Tuesday 6 Mar 2018

Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi shakes hands with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad Bin Salman at the Ittihadiya presidential palace in Cairo, Egypt, March 4, 2018 Reuters

Egypt and Saudi Arabia reiterated on Tuesday their rejection of interference by Iran and Qatar in the politics of Arab countries, while stressing that they are continuing to counter Doha's backing of terrorism.

Saudi Crown Prince Mohamed Bin Salman concluded his multi-day trip to Cairo earlier on Tuesday, during which he met with President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi in his first official foreign trip since becoming crown prince last year.

In a joint statement, Cairo and Riyadh affirmed that "strengthening Egyptian-Saudi cooperation is a fundamental pillar to protecting Arab national security and confronting foreign interference in the internal affairs of Arab countries, which has fueled tensions, conflicts and terrorist acts in Syria, Libya and Yemen."

The two countries stressed their "categorical rejection of Iranian interference in the internal affairs of Arab countries," the statement said.

They also affirmed their commitment to "combating Qatari support of terrorism and Qatar's blatant interference in the affairs of Arab states," according to the statement, which was published by El-Sisi's office and Saudi state news agency SPA.

In June 2017, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and the UAE severed diplomatic ties and transport links with Qatar for what they said is Doha's support of terrorist groups and meddling in their internal affairs, which Qatar has denied.

The Saudi side also spoke about the Grand Renaissance Dam Ethiopia is building on the main tributary to the Egypt's River Nile, which Cairo fears could affect its share of Nile water.

"The kingdom affirmed its full respect for Egypt's rights and use of Nile water as the lifeblood of the Egyptian people, calling on all countries to take this into account and not to endanger Egyptian security," the statement read.

Egypt and Ethiopia are at odds over the $4 billion-hydroelectric dam project, which Cairo fears will reduce its supply of Nile water, on which it almost exclusively relies for drinking water and irrigation.

During the talks, El-Sisi and Bin Salman discussed bolstering bilateral cooperation in the political, security, military, trade and investment spheres. They also discussed counter-terrorism efforts in the Middle East.

The two sides discussed major regional issues, reiterating their support of the legitimate rights of Palestinians to establish an independent state and their backing of a political solution to the conflicts in Syria, Libya and Yemen.

Cairo, which supports Riyadh in its fight against Yemen's Iran-backed Houthi militants, stressed on Tuesday "its full solidarity with Saudi Arabia in the face of any threat to its security."

Saudi Arabia has been a key backer of President El-Sisi's government, pumping billions of dollars in aid and investment into Egypt to help prop up its ailing economy.

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