Egypt’s Morsi visits Saudi for security talks
Mohamed Morsi says talks with King Abdullah, during first foreign trip as president, were “fruitful and constructive”.
Mohamed Morsi, Egypt’s new president, has said he and Saudi’s King Abdullah have held “fruitful” talks focused on regional stability, according to the SPA news agency.
State-run media said on Thursday the talks were held after a late night meeting between the two leaders.
“Our discussions were fruitful and constructive and in the interest of Egypt, of Saudi Arabia and of the people of the region,” Morsi told reporters in Saudi’s southern port city of Jeddah at the end of Wednesday night’s meeting.
“Everything [King Abdullah] said was in the interest of the future, of the region and of Egypt,” he said, adding that the king spoke with “wisdom and knowledge and love for the Egyptian people”.
Morsi arrived in Saudi Arabia on Wednesday for his first foreign trip since taking office and met first with King Abdullah and then with Crown Prince Salman bin Abdul Aziz, who had greeted him on his arrival.
Few details were given on the talks between Morsi and Abdullah, though the Egyptian president said regional stability was a key focus of their discussions.
“The stability of the region depends on the stability of Egypt and the Gulf, at the head of which stands Saudi Arabia,” he said.
Morsi said he chose Saudi Arabia for his first official visit due to the “deep rooted and historical relationship shared between the two countries.”
Tensions have long existed between the Gulf kingdom, where the strict Wahhabi doctrine of Sunni Islam applies, and Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood, moderate Islamists who were thrust to power by the Arab Spring revolt that swept the country last year.
Under Morsi’s predecessor, the ousted Hosni Mubarak, Egypt and Saudi Arabia enjoyed close relations.
But a rare diplomatic crisis between the two regional powers in April saw Riyadh recall its ambassador in Cairo and close its embassy for several days, after protests demanding the release of a lawyer and rights activist detained in the kingdom.
These latest talks are part of a recent wave of reconciliation, as Morsi has also said he will seek dialogue with political forces and judicial authorities to resolve a row over the Egyptian parliament, which was dissolved by the country’s generals when they were still in charge.
Last week, Morsi ordered parliament to convene in defiance of a military decision to disband it in line with a court ruling last month, before the generals handed power to the president.
Parliament met briefly on Tuesday and voted to refer the original ruling to an appeals court, setting off a fire storm of criticism from opponents who accused him of overstepping his authority.
Morsi was expected on Thursday to travel to Mecca and Medina, Islam’s two holiest cities, to perform the umra, the lesser pilgrimage that is carried out throughout the year – unlike the annual hajj which is held at a specified time each year.