BEIRUT

Middle East

Saudi king to pay rare visit to Egypt

  • Saudi King Abdullah. (AFP)

CAIRO: Saudi King Abdullah will visit Egypt on Friday for the first time since the 2011 uprising, in a show of support for newly-elected President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi, Egyptian officials said Thursday.

The officials said el-Sissi will receive the ailing monarch upon his arrival from Morocco, where he spent time for medical rehabilitation. The visit will be Abdullah's first since the 2011 ouster of Hosni Mubarak, a close ally of both Saudi Arabia and the United States. Officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak to the press.

Saudi Arabia and other Gulf nations showered Egypt with billions of dollars in aid after el-Sissi, then the army's top general, overthrew Islamist President Mohammed Morsi amid massive protests last summer. Saudi Arabia and Egypt have both declared the Muslim Brotherhood, from which Morsi hails, a terrorist organization.

The first world leader to congratulate el-Sissi after winning last month's election was King Abdullah, who has been on the throne for nearly a decade and is almost 90. The monarch declared that the turmoil sparked by the Arab Spring should now come to a close.

"The brotherly Egyptian people have suffered during the past period of chaos. The short-sighted called it 'creative chaos,'" the king said in a letter published by the Saudi state news agency.

He called for a donors conference to help Egypt "get out of the tunnel," referring to its wrecked economy.

 
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