Regional turmoil in focus at king’s talks with Egyptian PM

RIYADH: Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah held wide-ranging talks with Egyptian Prime Minister Essam Sharaf here Monday evening with a focus on regional political instability and security in the Gulf with special reference to Riyadh-Cairo relations in the post-Mubarak era.The talks also covered a range of other issues of common concerns like the trial of toppled Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, Iran and issues-related to the Arab League.“The Egyptian-Iranian relations in the context of Tehran’s recent verbal attacks on the GCC countries, especially Saudi Arabia, also figured during the talks,” said a diplomatic source.Sharaf, who is currently visiting the Saudi capital as part of a four-day tour of Gulf countries, stressed the need for forging “stronger political relations” while exchanging views with high-ranking Saudi officials, said Nabeel Baker, a spokesman for the Egyptian Embassy. “Libya, Palestine and Yemen also figured prominently in the discussions,” said Baker.

On the bilateral front, King Abdullah and Sharaf discussed ways and means to “bolster economic cooperation,” he added.The two leaders exchanged their opinion on the GCC-brokered peace deal for Yemen that calls for a smooth and peaceful transition of power in Sanaa.Another embassy official said that Iran figured during the discussions. Tehran requested Cairo to establish diplomatic ties after the fall of the Mubarak regime.The official said that the Egyptian side also briefed Saudi officials about the legal proceedings against Mubarak and his family members.In a statement after his meeting with the king, the premier highlighted the historic relations between Egypt and GCC countries. “Interference in GCC affairs is a red line,” the Saudi Press Agency quoted Sharaf as saying. He stressed that the security of the GCC countries is part and parcel of Egypt’s security.

Speaking about Egyptian-Iranian rapprochement, he said it was aimed at opening a new chapter in bilateral ties. “But it stops at the idea of interference in the affairs of countries, especially the GCC countries,” he said. He denied the existence of any problem with the UAE.The king’s talks with Sharaf were attended by top Saudi and Egyptian officials including Foreign Minister Prince Saud Al-Faisal, intelligence chief Prince Miqren, Prince Bandar bin Sultan, secretary general of the National Security Council; Prince Miteb bin Abdullah, commander of the National Guard and minister of state; and Saudi Ambassador to Egypt Ahmed bin Abdulaziz Qattan.On the Egyptian side, the talks were attended by Nabil Al-Arabi, minister of Foreign Affairs; Faiza Abu Al-Naga, minister of planning and international cooperation; Samir Radwan, minister of finance; and Egyptian Ambassador to Saudi Arabia Mahmoud Mohammed Ouf.Crown Prince Sultan, deputy premier and minister of defense and aviation, met with the Egyptian premier separately and discussed several issues of common concerns.Baker said that the ministerial delegation led by Sharaf would fly to Doha Tuesday. – Arabnews