Saudi Arabia and Egypt sign ‘Cairo Declaration’

Regional powers sign pact to boost economic and military ties, and pledge to work together to create joint Arab force.

Saudi Deputy Crown Prince on official visit to Egypt
In what they called a 'Cairo Declaration', Sisi and Salman pledged to enhance investments in the energy and transport sectors [EPA]

Egypt and Saudi Arabia have signed a pact in Cairo aimed at boosting military and economic ties between the two Arab allies.

In a statement released after a meeting between President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi and Saudi Defence Minister and Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman on Thursday, Sisi’s office said the two leaders also will work to create a joint Arab military force.

Arab defence and foreign ministers are to gather in Cairo to discuss the modalities of the force on August 27.

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“The two sides stressed the need to exert all efforts to boost security and stability in the region, and to work together to protect Arab national security,” Egypt’s presidential office said.

In what they called a “Cairo Declaration,” they pledged to enhance cooperation and investments in the energy and transport sectors.

Relations between the two countries have warmed since the 2013 ouster of President Mohamed Morsi, with Saudi Arabia offering billions in aid to Egypt.

In return, Cairo has participated in a Saudi-led bombing campaign against Houthi rebels in Yemen. Cairo had previously said it would also be prepared to commit ground troops if required.

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Riyadh has emerged as a key supporter of Sisi since the then-army chief ousted Morsi two years ago, offering $4bn to help kick-start an economy battered by years of political turmoil.

Sisi has strongly advocated such a force to fight armed groups in the region after the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant group claimed in February the beheading in Libya of 21 Coptic Christians, all but one of them Egyptian.

The Saudi delegation led by Salman also attended a military parade with Sisi.

Source: AFP, AP