Egypt’s president holds talks with visiting Qatari emir

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Egypt Qatar (ASSOCIATED PRESS)
Egypt Qatar (ASSOCIATED PRESS)

President Abdel Fattah el-Sissi of Egypt held talks Saturday with Qatar’s emir, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, who visited Cairo for the first time in years.

The talks focused on ties between the two nations and a set of other regional and global topics, according to a brief statement from the Egyptian presidency. It did not provide further details.

Al Thani arrived at the Itihadiya presidential palace in Cairo for talks with el-Sissi. Both leaders inspected an honor guard and bands played the national anthems of Egypt and Qatar, a livestream of the welcoming ceremony posted by the Egyptian presidency showed.

Egypt’s state-run al-Ahram daily reported that the talks aim at ensuring the “full normalization” of ties between the two nations after resuming their relations early in 2021.

Citing an unnamed source, the newspaper said the two countries will sign agreements that would include Qatari investments in Egypt’s battered economy.

During the visit, an Egyptian-Qatari business council will meet with the aim of improving trade and investments between the countries. Qatar announced in March the investment of $5 billion in Egypt’s economy, which was hit badly by the repercussions of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Al Thani landed in Cairo late Friday and was received by el-Sissi at the airport where they greeted each other with a handshake and cheek kisses on the tarmac.

The visit, unthinkable just a few years ago, and the warm welcome showed the rapid improvement of ties between the two nations since the end of a boycott of Doha by four Arab states, including Egypt.

It came ahead of President Joe Biden’s anticipated trip to the Middle East next month. Both el-Sissi and Al Thani will attend a Saudi Arabia-hosted summit with the American president. The summit will include the leaders of the Gulf Cooperation Council, Iraq and Egypt.

Egypt’s ties with Qatar deteriorated in 2013 when el-Sissi, as defense minister, led the military’s overthrow of the Islamist President Mohamed Morsi after his short-lived divisive rule. Morsi, who hailed from the Muslim Brotherhood, was backed by Qatar.

In 2017, Egypt joined Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain in a boycott of Qatar in an effort to force Doha to change its policies.

The rift finally ended in 2021, when Qatar signed a declaration with the four to normalize relations. Since then, ties have improved, and top officials have exchanged visits.

The Egyptian president has since met twice with the emir of Qatar.

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