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The New Arab

Trump 'driving force' behind patch up of Saudi-Egypt rift

Riyadh backed Sisi's rise to power after the ousting of the Muslim Brotherhood [Getty]

Date of publication: 24 April, 2017

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President Trump was the 'driving force' behind Egypt and Saudi Arabia's recent reconciliation after months of tensions, sources have told The New Arab.

US President Donald Trump has been the driving force behind Egypt and Saudi Arabia's recent patch up in relations after months of tensions, an Egyptian diplomatic source told The New Arab.

The Trump administration has reportedly pressed for the reconciliation between the two countries in a bid to curb Russian influence in the Middle East, while Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi has been seeking to improve relations with Washington after a "dry spell" under the previous administration.

Sisi met with Saudi Arabia's King Salman on Sunday in his first visit to the kingdom since a rare public spat last year erupted over diverging policies on Syria.

"Trump has played a major role in Cairo and Riyadh converging views on Syria, which had been the 'crux of the rift' between the two countries," the source, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said.

"Both of them have agreed to the plan that US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson proposed to Russia to solve the Syrian conflict,"

"They have agreed to something of an honour code, which regards Iran as a threat to the Arab world and stresses the need to confront it by all means possible with Cairo backing Riyadh in this regard."

The source added that during the previous meeting between the leaders at an Arab League summit last month they agreed on the importance of quickly ending the Yemen conflict "in a way that does not leave Riyadh looking defeated".

Trump recently used his influence over Sisi to secure the release of jailed Egyptian-US aid worker Aya Hijazi after back-room negotiations.

Sisi received a royal welcome from King Salman as he landed in Saudi Arabia, surrounded by key Saudi officials.

The Saudi king greeted Sisi as he stepped off the plane in the capital Riyadh and hosted him for lunch.

The two Arab leaders then had talks during which they "reviewed the strong and brotherly relations as well as cooperation between their two countries" and regional issues, the official Saudi Press Agency said.

Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir denied that there had ever been a rift between the two countries, adding that relations would only get stronger in the future.

The close allies seemingly held different views on Syria, where Saudi Arabia has aggressively pursued efforts to overthrow President Bashar al-Assad.

In October, however, Egypt voted in favour of two separate draft resolutions on Syria at the UN Security Council, one of which had been drafted by Syria's staunch ally Russia.

Egypt, the Arab world's most populous nation, depends on aid from Saudi Arabia, the region's largest economy. The kingdom is also said to have backed Sisi's rise to power after the ousting of the Muslim Brotherhood in the 2013 military coup.

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