King heads Saudi delegation to first Arab-EU summit in Egypt


Cairo — Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman is leading the Saudi delegation to the first Arab-European summit starting in Egypt on Sunday, a royal court statement announced on Saturday.

The King was received at Sharm El-Sheikh International Airport by Egypt President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi.

During his stay in Egypt the King will also hold talks with Sisi.

Before his departure, the King issued a royal order deputizing Crown Prince Muhammad Bin Salman to administer state affairs and look after the interests of the people during his absence.

Arab and European leaders are to hold their first summit Sunday, in what the top EU diplomat sees as a chance to boost cooperation.

Sisi will host the two-day summit in Egypt’s Red Sea resort of Sharm El-Sheikh to discuss topics like security, trade, development and migration.

Wars and conflicts in places such as Syria and Libya are on the agenda at the summit.

EU Foreign Policy chief Federica Mogherini said the gathering in Egypt of more than 40 heads of state and government will discuss common agenda.

“We will have first of all discussions on our economic cooperation, on our common region,” said the former Italian foreign minister.

An Arab League official, Khaled Al-Habbas, said the Israeli-Palestinian conflict would also be on the agenda in Sharm El-Sheikh.

Attending will be Donald Tusk, president of the European Council of EU member countries, and Jean-Claude Juncker, the president of the European Commission, the bloc’s executive arm.

A senior EU official told journalists in Brussels that 24 European heads of state and government have confirmed their attendance. These include German Chancellor Angela Merkel, British Prime Minister Theresa May and Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar.

The summit will be an opportunity for the leaders to emphasize the need for greater strategic cooperation between the EU and the Arab world, promoting a relationship of the kind that the EU has developed with other regional groupings. Today the two regions comprise 12% of the world’s population.

The two regions are already major trade and investment partners. Collectively the EU is the first trading partner for the LAS. This is also the case for 11 individual members of the Arab League. The EU is also the biggest investor in the Arab League countries.— Agencies