Dubai: Saudi deputy crown prince and defense minister Mohammad Bin Salman met with Egyptian president Abdul Fattah Al Sissi Thursday in Cairo where they signed the ‘Cairo declaration’ to enhance mutual cooperation between the two countries.
“The two sides are looking forward to the full implementation of the new agreement and will enhance communication and coordination at the highest levels between the two countries, which are the two wings of the Arab and Islamic nations, and are working together to ensure the achievement of the Arab and Islamic national security and continued prosperity,” according to a statement released by the Saudi Press Agency.
At the conclusion of the meeting, Egyptian President Abdul Fattah Al Sissi conveyed his greetings to Saudi King Salman Bin Abdul Aziz Al Saud and his brother Crown Prince Mohammad Bin Naif.
Meanwhile, the US began Thursday delivery of eight F-16 fighter jets to Egypt, according to its embassy in Cairo, the first since Washington fully lifted in March a freeze on arms delivery.
The operation comes as Secretary of State John Kerry’s prepares to visit Cairo for a “strategic dialogue” Sunday amid a warming in ties that were strained after the army ousted president Mohammad Mursi in 2013.
Following the overthrow of Mursi, Egypt’s first freely elected leader, Washington froze $1.3 billion in annual military aid to Egypt.
It fully resumed assistance in March, and Cairo took delivery of two US fast missile boats last month. Washington had already delivered 10 Apache helicopters in December.
The eight F-16 Block 52 jets “are being flown in directly from the United States, and will be immediately integrated into the Egyptian air force, joining its existing fleet of F-16 aircraft,” the embassy said.
All eight from this first batch will arrive by Friday, with four more to be delivered later this year.
“The F-16s provide a valuable capability that is needed during these times of regional instability,” the statement quoted senior embassy defence official Major General Charles Hooper as saying.
“Extremists threaten regional security and these weapon systems provide a new tool to help Egypt fight terrorism.”
In addition, the US will continue providing follow-on support, maintenance and training for Egyptian pilots and ground crews.
Egypt has been battling a Daesh terrorists in the Sinai Peninsula, and Washington has backed their efforts.
It has also voiced growing concern about Daesh’s presence in its western neighbour Libya, where the terrorist group has exploited a power struggle between rival governments to expand its presence.
In February, Egyptian air strikes targeted Daesh positions in Libya after the group posted a video showing the beheading of 21 Coptic Christians, all but one of them Egyptians.
No details have been made available on Sunday’s talks, which will be co-chaired by Kerry and Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shukri.
-with inputs from agencies