published: 2018-03-10 17:10:22
(5 Mar 2018) Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman met with Egypt’s Coptic Pope Tawadros II in Cairo on Monday, the first visit by a Saudi official to the spiritual centre of the country’s Orthodox Christian community.
At Cairo’s St. Mark’s Cathedral, the seat of the Coptic pope, bin Salman shook hands with church officials and posed for a picture with Tawadros.
It is the first trip abroad for the 32-year-old Salman since he became heir to the Saudi throne, and the trip is indicative of the deepening strategic partnership between the two countries.
Salman also visited the Suez Canal on Monday, and held talks with religious authorities at Al-Azhar, Egypt’s top Islamic authority.
In the evening, he and Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi were set to attend a performance at the Cairo Opera.
Egypt seeks investment from oil-rich Saudi Arabia to help develop the area around the Suez Canal, where Cairo wants to establish an international transport, logistics and production hub.
On the first day of the three-day visit, the two signed agreements on common investment funds and environmental protection, the Saudi news agency SPA reported.
The leaders are also expected to discuss the ongoing wars in Syria and Yemen, as well as their joint boycott of tiny Gulf nation Qatar, which they accuse of fomenting extremism across the region.
Salman’s trip comes just a week after he triggered his most recent shake-up, replacing the kingdom’s military chief of staff and other defence officials in what appeared to be an attempt to rethink tactics in the stalemated war in Yemen.
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