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Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman welcomed to Egypt by Sisi

Bin Salman and his delegation were welcomed by President Sisi on landing in Cairo [Getty]

Date of publication: 4 March, 2018

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Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman has been received by Egypt's President Sisi on arrival in Cairo, as he kicks off his maiden foreign tour
Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman landed in Egypt on Sunday afternoon and was received by President Abdelfattah al-Sisi, in a hugely anticipated visit.

Cairo is the first stop on prince's maiden foreign tour since being appointed heir to the throne and de-facto leader of the Saudi kingdom last June.

A beaming Egyptian President Sisi greeted the prince at Cairo airport after he descended the red-carpeted steps of his plane.

The head of Prince Mohammed's office, Bader al-Asaker, tweeted that the prince's plane was escorted by Egyptian fighter jets when it entered its air space.

Prince Mohammed is set to hold talks with President Sisi, a key regional ally, and other officials in Egypt over his three-day visit, before flying off to the UK on Wednesday and then the United States.

According to Arab News, the crown prince and Egypt's president will discuss inter-Arab cooperation as well the latest developments in the region.

The Saudi leader will reportedly meet with Pope Tawadros II - the head of Egypt's Coptic church - in Abbasiya on Monday, according to media reports.

Saudi Arabia views Egypt as a cornerstone of regional stability, after the former army chief Sisi overthrew his Islamist predecessor Mohamed Morsi in 2013.

Riyadh viewed Morsi's Muslim Brotherhood with suspicion and at one point briefly recalled its ambassador from Cairo during his turbulent year in power.

It has since showered Cairo with aid to prop up the country's economy, in a relationship that has led to some controversy in Egypt.

In 2015, during a visit by King Salman to Cairo, the two countries agreed on the transfer of two Red Sea islands to Saudi Arabia, sparking rare protests in Egypt.

Sisi ratified the deal last year, and Egypt's top court annulled lower court rulings for and against the treaty on the eve of the crown prince's arrival.

Prince Mohammed's visit comes ahead of Egypt's presidential polls in late March, with Sisi expected to win a second four-year term.

The visit "will be interpreted as proof of Saudi support for Sisi to remain as the president of Egypt", Mostafa Kamel al-Sayed, a political science professor at Cairo University, told AFP.

Cairo and Riyadh have maintained close ties, although Egypt has signalled a lack of enthusiasm for Saudi regional policy, both on the Yemen war and a potential escalation with Iran.

But it is among a bloc of Arab nations that joined a Saudi-led boycott since June of Qatar.

The crown prince's tour also aims to court investors and comes after a tumultuous period that has seen a military shake-up and a royal purge in Saudi Arabia, part of his sweeping power play in the kingdom.

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