President Mohammed Mursi to first visit Saudi Arabia come Wednesday: A commentary
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First of all, Saudi Arabia King Abdullah through kingdom’s ambassador in Cairo Mohammed al-Qattan invited Egypt’s President Mohammed Mursi to visit KSA which he accepted. Mursi will travel to Saudi Arabia on Wednesday which will be his first overseas visit as president. This indicates that he wants to maintain the time tested and long standing regional alliance.
According to Ambassador al-Qattan, President Mursi will meet with King Abdullah then make a short pilgrimage to Mecca, Islam's holiest site.
President Mursi was careful to undertake such visit to Saudi Arabia being his first visit abroad to enable him and King Abdullah to know each other and discuss ways to increase trade and investment cooperation.
The kingdom’s ambassador in Egypt said that "Egyptian-Saudi relations cannot be reduced to just economic ties. They are more encompassing than that." However, the ambassador did not elaborate how encompassing the ties between the two nations would be.
Let it be emphasized that before elected as president, Mursi led the Freedom and Justice Party of Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood, known as the oldest and most established contemporary Islamist Sunni movement.
Mursi has standing invitation (but he is yet to accept) from Iranian Presidentto attend the summit of the Non-aligned Movement in Tehran on August 29. Let it be recalled that Cairo-Teheran ties were closed in 1980 after Iran’s Islamic Revolution and recognition of Israel by Egypt.
Iran is a recognized Shi’a Islamic nation despite of its big Sunni population. In this context, President Mursi needs to be careful in dealing with Iran.
President Mursi became the rallying point of the election that capped the rule of Egypt by former military men who made themselves dictators of their respective eras.
President Mursi’s trip will be a breakthrough which will define and shape Egypt’s foreign policy. Hopefully, the proceeds of his visit to Saudi Arabia will be concurred in by the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) tasked to facilitate smooth transfer of power to civilian government now under the presidency of Mursi.
Indeed, Mursi’s trip to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia will be a litmus paper test both for SCAF and the new presidency.