Saudi FM Arrives in Egypt for Meetings

Saudi FM Arrives in Egypt for Meetings

CAIRO (AP) -- Saudi Arabia's foreign minister arrived in Cairo to meet with his Egyptian counterpart on Sunday amid efforts to resolve differences on the Syrian and Yemeni conflicts and other regional flashpoints.

The Saudis are leading supporters of the Syrian opposition, while Egypt, fearful of Islamic militants among the rebels' ranks, has pushed for a political solution that might keep Syrian President Bashar Assad in power. Saudi Arabia had also expected Egypt to send ground troops to help the coalition it is leading against Shiite rebels in Yemen, but Cairo has balked.

In October, the Saudis abruptly halted oil shipments to Cairo after it voted in favor of a U.N. resolution favorable to the Syrian government. They were resumed in March before an Arab summit intended to express unity, during which Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi and Saudi Arabia's King Salman held face-to-face talks.

The two leaders also met during U.S. President Donald Trump's visit to the region last month, and were featured in a group photo along with Trump holding their hands over a glowing white orb to mark the opening of a counterterrorism center in the Saudi capital, Riyadh.

Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir and Egypt's top diplomat, Sameh Shoukry, are expected to hold a joint news conference later in the day.

Riyadh has been a longtime backer of el-Sissi, funding his government with billions of dollars in aid since he led the overthrow of his elected but divisive Islamist predecessor. The aid dried up as oil prices tumbled and leaked audiotapes appeared to show el-Sissi speaking poorly of his Saudi benefactors.

Relations suffered a further blow when popular opposition held up an Egyptian decision to transfer control of two Red Sea islands to Saudi Arabia. Riyadh has meanwhile moved to improve ties with Turkey and Qatar, which support ousted Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi's Muslim Brotherhood group, now outlawed as a terrorist organization in Egypt.

(KA)