August 19, 2013 / 3:43 PM / 7 years ago

Saudi prince pledges to fill financial gap from any Western sanctions on Egypt

RIYADH (Reuters) - Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Saud al-Faisal on Monday pledged to fill any financial gaps left by Western countries withdrawing aid from Egypt over an army crackdown on Muslim Brotherhood protesters that has left hundreds dead since last week.

Speaking to state news agency SPA in Jeddah after visiting France on Sunday, Prince Saud also accused Western countries of tacitly encouraging Muslim Brotherhood violence with their criticism of the Egyptian military.

“To those who have declared they are stopping aid to Egypt or are waving such a threat, the Arab and Muslim nations are wealthy with their people and resources and will not shy away from offering a helping hand to Egypt,” he said.

Saudi Arabia, the world’s top oil exporter, has given Egypt’s military rulers its full backing since they overthrew the country’s first freely elected president, Mohamed Mursi, last month, saying mass protests against him showed he had lost legitimacy.

While Egypt’s Western allies have denounced the army’s crackdown on the Brotherhood, Riyadh has instead said the country is tackling terrorism and sedition.

“We see international stances that have taken a strange course... as if the aim is to cover up for the crimes, the burning of Egypt and the killing of its people,” he said.

Barack Obama last week cancelled annual military exercises with Egypt, while European Union foreign ministers were due to hold an emergency meeting in Brussels on Wednesday to discuss how to press the Egyptian authorities for a compromise.

On Sunday, after meeting French President Francois Hollande, Prince Saud warned the West against putting pressure on Egypt to end its crackdown, saying it would not achieve anything.

The rise of the Muslim Brotherhood to power after the 2011 revolt that overthrew their long-time ally Hosni Mubarak unsettled Gulf Arab monarchies, who fear the Islamist group wants to spread its influence into their own countries.

Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Kuwait pledged to give Egypt $12 billion in aid after last month’s ouster of Mursi.

According to Egyptian Finance Ministry figures released in June, the state budget deficit for the first five months of 2013 nearly doubled from a year earlier to 113.4 billion Egyptian pounds ($16.2 billion). Saudi Arabia had a budget surplus of $103 billion last year.

Reporting by Sami Aboudi; Editing by Angus McDowall and Raissa Kasolowsky

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