FM tries to defuse tension with Saudi Arabia

Egyptian Foreign Minister Mohamed Kamel Amr attempted to defuse tension with Saudi Arabia on Monday, emphasizing the strategic nature of Egyptian-Saudi relations and saying they will not be affected by a cursory disagreement.

The state owned news agency, MENA, quoted Amr as saying that the Saudi Ambassador, recalled by his country on Saturday, will return to Cairo soon.

The rift came after demonstrations against Saudi Arabia's arrest of Egyptian lawyer Ahmed al-Gizawy on 17 April grew in recent days, culminating in a rally of almost 1,000 people at the Saudi embassy on Friday. Protesters hurled insults at the kingdom's rulers.

Riyadh reacted angrily by recalling their envoy on Saturday, a diplomatic rupture between the two long-time allies that came just a week after the oil-rich Gulf state agreed to send $2.7 billion to support Egypt's depleted finances.

On Sunday, Planning and International Cooperation Minister Fayza Abouelnaga said that the aberration in relations would be resolved soon.

Abouelnaga said on Sunday that the Saudi ambassador was expected to return to Cairo, possibly within hours, and denied Egyptian media reports that Saudi Arabia and Egypt were also in a dispute over two Red Sea islands.

As for accusations that Egyptian diplomats are not exerting enough effort to look after the Egyptian communities overseas, Amr said all workers at Egyptian embassies are fulfilling their duties satisfactorily.

Amr added that the Egyptian consul in Saudi Arabia has taken care of Gizawy and his wife. He denied news reports that Egypt and Saudi Arabia will be swapping prisoners.

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