MANAMA Dec 10 Egypt's Foreign Minister Sameh
Shukri on Saturday hailed a "special relationship" with Saudi
Arabia, denying reports that the two powerful Arab nations had
fallen out after Egypt expressed support for the Russian
intervention in Syria.
Egypt voted in favour of a Russian-backed U.N. resolution on
Syria in October that excluded calls to stop bombing Aleppo,
which Saudi Arabia strongly opposed.
The kingdom informed Egypt last month that shipments of oil
products expected under a $23 billion aid deal had been halted
indefinitely, but Shukri denied the nations were at loggerheads
and said any disagreements had been exaggerated.
"Let me reassure you that from Egypt's perspective we have a
very clear vision as to the fundamental nature of that
relationship ... Arab national security depends on the cohesion
and understanding that exists between Saudi Arabia and Egypt."
"The sensitivity that exists in ... what may be perceived as
divergence of views or differences of opinion might be escalated
in the press to take dimensions that go beyond the inherent
special relationship," Shukri said at the Manama Dialogue
conference on Middle East security in Bahrain.
Shukri added that Egypt was not building its relations with
Saudi arch rival Iran, with which it has had strained diplomatic
ties since the late 1970s, but has said it engages with the
Islamic Republic in multilateral forums.
"Egypt maintains a severance of diplomatic relations in the
past 25 years and has taken no position to change that
"Egypt has always taken the opportunity of such discussions
to re-emphasize the positions of the Arab nation, the interest
of the Arab nation, vis-à-vis what might be expansionary
policies of Iran," he added.
Saudi Arabia and some of its Gulf Arab allies accuse Iran of
trying to encircle the kingdom by supporting militia groups in
the region - a charge Tehran denies.
(Reporting By William Maclean; Writing by Noah Browning;
Editing by Louise Heavens)