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A handout picture released by the Egyptian Presidency shows President Abdel Fattah Al Sissi welcoming the Emir of Qatar Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani in Cairo on June 24, 2022. Image Credit: AFP

Cairo: Egyptian President Abdul Fattah Al Sissi Saturday accorded an official welcome in Cairo to Qatar’s Emir Tamim bin Hamad, who made his first visit to Egypt in more than seven years after the two Arab countries resolved a long diplomatic dispute.

Al Sissi was seen in TV footage receiving Sheikh Tamim at the presidential palace in Cairo where they reviewed a guard of honour and national anthems of Egypt and Qatar were played before they went into talks.

Their discussion was expected to focus on boosting ties between the two countries and a host of regional and international issues of mutual concern, Egyptian officials said.

Sheikh Tamim’s visit comes yet as a fresh sign of improving relations between Cairo and Doha after years of estrangement.

Sheikh Tamim landed in Cairo Friday evening, starting his two-day trip, the first since March 2015 when he attended an annual Arab summit in the Egyptian resort town of Sharm Al Sheikh.

His latest visit came days after a trip to Egypt by Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman as part of a regional tour that also took him to Jordan and Turkey.

Early last year, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Bahrain ended a boycott of Qatar after years of strains due to a diplomatic row that erupted in 2017.

At the time, Cairo accused Qatar of becoming a safe haven to fugitive members of the banned Muslim Brotherhood and providing a mouthpiece for the organisation designated as a terror group in Egypt. The Saudi-led bloc had also severed diplomatic and transportation links with Qatar in mid-2017.

Since the five countries signed a reconciliation pact at a Gulf summit in the Saudi city of AlUla in January 2021, ties have noticeably grown between Egypt and Qatar.

In June last year, Al Sissi appointed a new Egyptian ambassador to Qatar. Also that month, Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shukry visited Qatar, the first trip by such a senior Egyptian official to Doha since the two countries restored diplomatic ties.

In August of last year, Al Sissi and Sheikh Tamim met in Iraq on the sidelines of a regional summit and agreed to promote ties between their countries.

In the same vein, the national Egyptian and Qatari airlines restarted flights between the two countries in a sign of a thaw in ties.

Last September, Egypt and Qatar signed cooperation accords at a meeting of a follow-up committee from the two countries in Doha.

In a gesture of improved links, last December, the Cairo Tower, a famed Nileside landmark in the Egyptian capital, lit up in the colours of the Qatari flag as the Gulf state marked its National Day.