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The New Arab

Egypt's Sisi puts on public show of support for visiting Saudi crown prince

Sisi gave his Saudi counterpart a warm welcome at Cairo airport [AP]

Date of publication: 27 November, 2018

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Egypt's President Sisi pulled out huge display of pageantry for disgraced Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, who is visiting Cairo on Tuesday.
Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman continued his two-day visit to Egypt on Tuesday, holding talks in the early hours with President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi and a few key aides, according to diplomatic sources.

Huge fanfare has surrounded the crown prince's high-profile visit to Egypt, from his arrival at Cairo airport on Monday night.

The meeting has served as Sisi's public declaration of support for the de-facto leader of Saudi Arabia after a cloud of controversy following the alleged state-sanctioned murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, sources told The New Arab's Arabic-language service.

The president himself met the prince on the runway of Cairo'sairport in front of a crowd of photographers and reporters, where they gave each other a warm greeting ahead of the prince's stay in Egypt.

The Saudi flag was raised over various tourist sites in the Egyptian capital, in an apparent bid to drum up  support for the crown prince who has suffered a recent public image disaster.

Mounting evidence of his alleged personal involvement in the journalist's murder in Istanbul last month has led to global outcry, with the crown prince turning to Arab allies for support.

Saudi media on Tuesday reported that the kingdom's flag had projected onto Giza's Great Pyramid, however the image was later found to be fake.

The two leaders reportedly discussed the Khashoggi fallout,
the Palestinian issue and relations with Israel [AP]

According to sources, Sisi has ordered all pro-regime media not to publish any stories on rumours of bin Salman's alleged fall from grace following the journalist's murder.

Sisi has also banned any reports detailing the firing of the prince's two closest associates, Saud al-Qahtani and Ahmed Assiri, or the 18-man "hit squad" who have since been charged with Khashoggi's murder.

The two leaders held talks on Monday night, in which sources said only a few hand-picked officials were present. The talks were thought to have focused on the public fall-out following Khashoggi's killing, the Palestinian issue, and relations with Israel.

In addition to bin Salman's recent tour of close allies - the UAE, Bahrain, Egypt and Tunisia - to show his support from governments in the region, the crown prince was also awarded Bahrain's highest order by King Hamad al-Khalifa.

Close ties with the oil-rich kingdom are vital for Egypt both diplomatically and economically, with the crown prince poised to agree financial aid deals with Egypt in exchange for a public show of support, according to a diplomatic source.

The first of the donations is expected to fund fuel subsidies in anticipation of energy price rises as part of IMF restructuring policies in Egypt.

The second is expected to go towards and improving water infrastructure, including drilling wells and importing water pumps for groundwater in the Sinai. The Egyptian ministry for irrigation has already announced it is seeking $100m in loans from the Saudi Fund for Development in order to finance this project.

The crown prince is expected to travel to Tunisia later on Tuesday, however, student demonstrations against his visit have rocked the capital over recent days.

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