Egypt MPs eye meeting Saudi Arabia’s Shura Council to mend fences

Upon the request of a large number of MPs, the speaker of Egypt’s parliament, Ali Abdel-Al has announced that he is seriously studying a proposal aimed at holding a joint meeting with leading members of Saudi Arabia’s Shura Council.

In a plenary session on Monday, Abdel-Aal said Egypt is keen that it has excellent relations with the brother nation of Saudi Arabia. “For this reason I will seriously study this request and see how it could be implemented,” he said.

Abdel-Al’s announcement came after independent MP and high-profile journalist Mostafa Bakri told parliament Monday that a large number of MPs have signed a request asking that an Egyptian parliamentary delegation be formed to visit Saudi Arabia and meet with leading members of its Shura Council, to help erase any tension between the two countries.

According to Bakri, the proposal should reflect a kind of “parliamentary diplomacy” which aims at strengthening Egypt’s relations with other countries via parliamentary and popular channels.

Bakri told journalists that when relations between Egypt and Saudi Arabia suffered a setback in 2012 due to protests in front of the Saudi embassy in Cairo, and when late King Abdullah bin Abdel-Aziz reacted by recalling the Saudi ambassador to Cairo, Egypt’s parliament decided to send a delegation to Saudi Arabia to mend fences.

“It was an excellent step which helped put the relations between the two Arab brotherly nations back on a sound track and demonstrated the power of parliamentary diplomacy,” said Bakri.

Bakri said that a large number of MPs have signaled their support of his proposal. “They also want to play a role in keeping excellent relations with Saudi Arabia,” said Bakri.

Relations between Egypt and the kingdom have soured this week after Egypt – currently occupying a non-permanent seat on the UN Security Council – voted in favour of a Russian proposal on the war in Syria.

Following the vote, the Saudi ambassador to Cairo, Ahmed Kattan, left the country while Saudi oil company Aramco cancelled its October oil shipments to Cairo.

A media war between the two countries also erupted, with the Egyptian media accusing Saudi Arabia of trying to buy Egypt’s “independent decision-making.”

In an interview with Egyptian newspapers this week, President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi insisted that “strategic relations between Egypt and Saudi Arabia are not affected by anything and we should not allow anything to assail these relations.”

El-Sisi has thanked Saudi Arabia for the support it has shown Egypt in recent years, accusing traditional and social media of “drawing a false picture” of tension between the two allies.”

Source: Ahram Online

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