Saudi Crown Prince Meets Egypt's President on First Official Trip Abroad

Earlier this day, President Sissi discussed Egypt's fight against terror in phone call with Trump

Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi (L) greets Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman on his arrival to Cairo, Egypt. March 4, 2018.
Mohammed Samaha/MENA via AP

Saudi Arabia's Mohammed Bin Salman met President Abdel Fattah al-Sissi in Cairo on Sunday on his first public trip abroad since he became crown prince last year and purged the country's political and economic elite in an anti-corruption drive. 

Earlier this day, the presidential palace in Cairo said Sissi had spoken with U.S. President Donald Trump by phone about Egypt's fight against terrorism, and other regional issues.  

Egypt and Saudi have strengthened ties since Sissi took power after ousting the Muslim Brotherhood in 2013. 

The countries signed agreements to "activate" a 60 billion Saudi riyal ($16 billion) investment fund they agreed to set up in 2016, and another deal on environmental protection, at a short televised ceremony attended by the two leaders. The details of the agreements were not immediately given. 

Cairo supports Riyadh in its fight against Iran-backed Houthi fighters in Yemen, and last year joined a Saudi-led boycott of Gulf state Qatar and agreed to hand over two Red Sea islands to Saudi despite widespread criticism at home. 

Bin Salman's arrival comes a day after Egypt’s top court dismissed all outstanding legal challenges to a deal transferring two Red Sea islands to Saudi Arabia. The plan to cede the islands to Riyadh was announced in 2016 and became mired in political protest and legal action.

The Saudi visit comes three weeks ahead of an election where former general Sissi is seeking a second term. Sissi is guaranteed a win in a vote where, critics say, authorities have locked up opponents or forced them to halt election campaigns. 

As Egypt tries to keep a lid on any internal unrest, it has sided firmly with Saudi Arabia on key foreign policy issues including the face-off between the Sunni kingdom and its Shi'ite foe Iran. 

Egypt eagerly joined the trade and diplomatic boycott of Qatar, whose government and media it accuses of supported the now banned Muslim Brotherhood, hundreds of whose members Cairo has imprisoned and sentenced to death. 

After his three-day visit to Egypt, Bin Salman will head for Britain on March 7 for an official meeting with British Prime Minister Theresa May that will focus on topics such as extremism and societal reform. Later in the month he is expected to travel to the United States, Riyadh's closest Western ally.