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The New Arab

Sisi 'assures' Trump that Saudi islands deal will happen

Trump set human rights scandals aside to welcome Sisi to the White House [Getty]

Date of publication: 4 April, 2017

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Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi has assured US President Donald Trump that Cairo will hand over two strategic Red Sea islands to Saudi Arabia.

Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi has assured US President Donald Trump that Cairo will hand over two strategic Red Sea islands to Saudi Arabia, a US-based Egyptian diplomat told The New Arab.

Trump set human rights scandals aside to welcome Sisi to the White House on Monday, the first such visit from an Egyptian president in almost a decade.

"Sisi said that Egypt has not pulled back from the deal and that they are serious about carrying through with it after parliament approves the legal requirements," the source, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said.

"There were implicit indications that US military and economic aid to Egypt would not be reduced and that Egypt would be given preferential treatment in future arms deals with the US," the source said.

He added that Trump raised the issue of human rights abuses and repression of civil society with Sisi on an "extremely superficial level".

An Egyptian court on Sunday voided a previous decision to block the transfer the two Red Sea islands of Tiran and Sanafir to Saudi Arabia.

     
      Sisi and his government have insisted the islands are Saudi

The ruling came days after Sisi met with Saudi King Salman on the sidelines of the Arab League summit in Jordan, breaking the ice after months of tensions between the longtime allies.

Egyptian judges held a news conference hours after the ruling was announced in protest of a draft law that expands the president's control of the judiciary.

Judges believe the draft law is tailored to prevent specific judges from presiding over top courts and that it is linked to the two high-profile rulings that annulled the Saudi islands deal.

Sisi and his government have insisted the islands are Saudi, but the agreement sparked the largest anti-government street demonstrations since Sisi took office in 2014, when thousands took to the streets in April last year.

The controversy became a source of tension with Saudi Arabia, which has provided billions of dollars of aid to Egypt.

But it seems Egypt and Saudi Arabia have reconciled their differences.

King Salman invited Sisi to visit Saudi Arabia during their recent meeting, which came days after Egypt announced Saudi energy giant Aramco resumed delivering shipments of petroleum products after abruptly suspending them last October.

The move was announced after Egypt voted in favour of a Russian-drafted UN Security Council resolution on Syria that Saudi Arabia strongly opposed.

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