Egyptian officials try to mend ties

“Qattan, who was recalled by Saudi Arabia following unjustified protests and security threats to Saudi Embassy officials in Cairo during the last few weeks, has returned to the country,” confirmed Osama Nugali, a Foreign Ministry spokesman, in Riyadh yesterday.
The move comes after Saudi Arabia announced a day earlier that it was recalling Qattan, closing its embassy in Cairo and the two consulates in the country, Nugali added. The Kingdom took this decision after Egyptian activists and hooligans staged protests last week at the Kingdom’s embassy in Cairo to demand the release of Egyptian lawyer Ahmed El-Gezawi from Saudi prison. El-Gezawi has been charged with carrying large amounts of drugs, the sale of which is illegal in the Kingdom.
Asked about the Egyptian move to convince the Kingdom to restore normalcy, Nabeel Baker, a spokesman of the Egyptian Embassy, said: “The embassy would not be able to comment on the measures adopted by Cairo.” He, however, cited efforts being exerted by top Egyptian officials to normalize the situation. Egypt’s Cabinet has already made a statement apologizing for the actions of certain protesters against the Saudi Embassy in Cairo.
In the statement, the Egyptian government further condemned any act against the Saudi Embassy describing it as “irresponsible” and “spontaneous” moves that harm “deep-rooted” Egypt-Saudi relations. In another statement, Saad Al-Katatni, speaker of the Egyptian People’s Assembly, stressed the depth of Saudi-Egyptian relations. Al-Katatni said that he made a call to the Saudi Shoura Council, stressing the depth of bilateral relations between the Kingdom and Egypt.
He claimed relations would not be affected. “We are not pleased with what has happened in the vicinity of the Saudi Embassy which recently led to the recalling of the ambassador and closure of the Saudi Embassy and consulates in Alexandria and Suez,” Al-Katatni added. He pointed out the case against El-Gezawi should be resolved through the courts. Saudi Arabia is home to over 9 million foreigners including Egyptians.
Thousands of them are pardoned by Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah every year, while a number of them serve their prison terms and are then set free. According to a report published by Egypt Independent, there are about 1,401 Egyptians in Saudi prisons charged with criminal offenses. However, this number is negligible keeping in view the large number of Egyptians living and working in Saudi Arabia. More than 48 percent — 923,600 — of Egyptian expatriates live in Saudi Arabia.
“Riyadh and Cairo have forged closer ties in all sectors ranging from politics and economy to culture and matrimony,” said an Arab diplomat, adding that the relations will be “on track” very soon. On an Arab level, Saudi Arabia and Egypt shoulder a big responsibility to maintain Arab solidarity, he added.
The two countries adopt similar stands concerning many issues and crises on international, Arab and Muslim fronts, including the Arab-Israeli conflict and Palestinian cause, he noted.
This similarity reflects common principles and strong relations between the two countries. The two countries signed a friendship agreement in 1926. Both countries played a key role in the conclusion of the Arab League charter. The Kingdom has always been at the forefront of extending all possible help to Egypt. Riyadh supported Egyptian requests concerning the evacuation of British forces from Egypt as well as Egyptian opinions in the Arab League, United Nations and all international organizations and gatherings. In 1955, Egypt and Saudi Arabia signed a joint defense agreement in Cairo.

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