'Egypt fully rejects Iranian interference in Arab affairs,' FM Shoukry tells Saudi Crown Prince

Al Ahram

Egypt completely rejects attempts by Iran to shake the stability of Arab states, Egypt's foreign minister Sameh Shoukry told Saudi Crown Prince Mohamed bin Salman during a visit to Riyadh on Tuesday. Egyptian foreign ministry spokesman Ahmed Abu Zeid said in a statement that Shoukry asserted Egypt's full rejection of foreign interference in the region, specifically from Iran.

Shoukry said that Egypt supports security and stability in the Gulf, as it is integral to Arab and Egyptian national security. Both Shoukry and the Saudi prince affirmed that the stability of both Egypt and Saudi Arabia was a "valve of security" for the Arab region, adding that any damage to one of the two countries would damage the other.

Shoukry also accentuated Egypt's stance on preserving Arab solidarity in light of challenges faced in the region, stressing Egypt's strong condemnation of attacks against Riyadh by the Iran-allied Houthi rebels in Yemen rebels, as well as an attack that recently targeted a Bahraini oil pipeline. Saudi Arabia accused Iran of “direct aggression” after a rocket was intercepted after being fired from Yemen at an airport in Riyadh on 4 November. The Gulf country has also accused the Lebanese group Hezbollah, an ally of Iran, of “declaring war” on Saudi Arabia.

The talks between Shoukry and the prince also included discussion of political developments in Lebanon, Syria, Yemen, Iraq, Libya, as well as efforts to combat terrorism and extremism, which the statement said is a common goal of the two countries. Following the meeting with Prince Mohamed, Shoukry held talks with his Saudi counterpart Adel Al-Jubeir, where they discussed the ongoing row with Qatar, as well as efforts to unify the Syrian opposition ahead of the UN-brokered Geneva negotiations.

The two ministers also discussed the Ethiopian Grand Renaissance Dam (GERD), and the obstacles faced in the technical negotiations between Egypt, Sudan and Ethiopia. Al-Jubeir said that his country understands Egypt's concerns over its water security, stressing his full respect for the March 2015 declaration of principles signed between the three African countries.

They also discussed preparations for an upcoming meeting of Arab foreign ministers, which is set to be held on Sunday in Cairo. The upcoming meeting comes at the request of Saudi Arabia to discuss "violations" committed by Iran in the region. Saudi Arabia was the final destination for the Egyptian foreign minister, who was dispatched by Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi to deliver a message to the leaders of six Arab countries to intensify consultations amid growing regional tension between Saudi Arabia and Iran.

Tension has been growing since Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Al-Hariri announced his resignation during a visit to Saudi Arabia, citing fear for his life and accusing his foes, mainly Hezbollah, of political interference. During Shoukry's tour, which also included Jordan, the UAE, Bahrain, Oman and Kuwait, the Egyptian minister stressed Egypt's policy of pursuing political solutions to crises and on the importance of averting tension, polarisation and instability in the region.