Saudi king orders reopening of mission in Egypt
RIYADH THE custodian of the Two Holy Mosques Abdullah bin Abdulaziz al Saud ordered on Friday the reopening of the Saudi mission in Egypt after it was shut last week in the wake of angry protests, defusing a rare crisis between the two Arab heavyweights.
The SPA state news agency, quoting an unnamed official, said the king “instructed the kingdom’s ambassador to Cairo to resume his post on Sunday, and ordered the reopening of the embassy and the consulates in Alexandria and Suez.” The decision was announced after the monarch received a top ranking Egyptian delegation, a day after it arrived in the kingdom on a mission to defuse tension between Cairo and Riyadh.
Saudi Arabia recalled its ambassador on Saturday after angry protests broke out outside its Cairo embassy following the arrest in the kingdom of an Egyptian human rights lawyer. Riyadh claimed he was in possession of drugs.
King Abdullah told the delegation the recent deterioration in ties was “painful to every honest Saudi and Egyptian citizen,” and the kingdom’s decision to shut its embassy “was only to protect its staff.” He welcomed the Egyptian delegation’s visit, saying that with “such an honourable position I can only say that we shall not allow this passing crisis to last long.” The monarch also urged “Egyptian and Saudi media to take an honourable stance, and to speak good or shut up,” clearly alluding to fierce campaigns waged in both countries since the crisis flared up.
The delegation is headed by Egypt’s parliament speaker Saad al-Katatni and the head of the consultative council Ahmed Fahmi. It also includes Muslim and Christian clergy, political leaders and cinema stars.
Katatni and other delegation members urged the king to reopen the embassy, according to footage of the meeting broadcast on Saudi television.
“Recalling the Saudi ambassador from Cairo is difficult for us, Egyptians.
This delegation came here to stress the depth of our relation and requests you to send the ambassador back to Cairo on the same plane with us,” Katatni said.