Saudi crown prince to visit Egypt ahead of US, Britain tour


Riyadh (AFP)

Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman will visit Egypt on Sunday for his first foreign tour as heir to the throne, a government source told AFP.

The powerful crown prince is expected in Britain next Wednesday for talks with Prime Minister Theresa May and in the United States from March 19 to 22.

Saudi Arabia and Egypt are key regional allies that have stood together in both the war in Yemen and the Qatar crisis. They both oppose Iran's influence in the region.

The two-day visit to Cairo also comes ahead of Egypt's presidential polls, scheduled for late March, with incumbent Abdel Fattah al-Sisi expected to win a second four-year term.

The government source said on Thursday that Prince Mohammed's choice of Egypt for his maiden overseas trip as crown prince "reaffirms Saudi-Egyptian cooperation at the highest level".

Talks would cover regional nemesis Iran, the conflict in Yemen, counter-terrorism and energy cooperation, the source said.

Egypt is part of a Saudi-led military coalition which intervened in Yemen in March 2015 to fight Iran-backed Huthi rebels, a conflict that United Nations says has engendered the world's worst humanitarian crisis.

Saudi Arabia and Egypt are also part of a bloc of nations that has boycotted Qatar since June over alleged ties to Islamic extremists and Iran. Qatar denies the accusations.

The crown prince, who was named heir to the throne in June, is also expected to visit France in the coming weeks.