Egypt’s Sisi visits Saudi Arabia amid financial pressure, regional realignment

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RIYADH (Reuters) – Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi visited Saudi Arabia on Sunday, Saudi state news agency SPA said, as Cairo seeks financial inflows to ease pressure on its currency and bolster a faltering economy.

Oil-rich Saudi Arabia has long provided financial support to Egypt but recently signalled it would no longer provide such backing without conditions attached, which observers think may have sparked a rare media clash between the two countries.

The trip also comes amid a major diplomatic realignment in the region, with moves by Saudi Arabia and Egypt to ease tensions with Syria, Iran and Turkey.

Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, the kingdom’s de facto ruler, met with Sisi at the Saudi Red Sea city of Jeddah, where they discussed bilateral ties and regional developments, SPA said.

Other Saudi and Egyptian officials, including Saudi national security adviser Musaad bin Mohammed al-Aiban and Egypt’s intelligence chief Abbas Kamel, attended the meeting, it added.

Saudi Arabia and its Gulf allies have repeatedly come to Egypt’s help since Sisi led the ouster of Mohamed Mursi of the Muslim Brotherhood a decade ago.

When Egypt’s financial difficulties were exposed and exacerbated by the fallout from the war in Ukraine last year, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Qatar made deposits in Egypt’s central bank and pledged major new investments.

But those investments have been slow to materialise, putting new pressure on the Egyptian pound in recent weeks despite the currency’s losing nearly half its value against the dollar since March 2022.

Egypt signed a $3 billion rescue plan with the International Monetary Fund in December that targeted $9.7 billion in foreign direct investment in the financial year ending in June 2023.

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