Egyptian president holds talks with Qatari emir

Egypt President Abdel Fattah el-Sissi held talks on Saturday with Qatari Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, who visited Cairo for the first time in years.

The talks focused on ties between the two nations and a range of other regional and global topics, according to a brief statement from the Egyptian presidency. It gave no further details.

Al Thani arrived at the Itihadiya presidential palace in Cairo for talks with el-Sissi. Both leaders inspected a guard of honor and bands played the national anthems of Egypt and Qatar, according to a live stream of the welcome ceremony hosted by the Egyptian presidency.

The Egyptian state-run daily al-Ahram reported that talks are aimed at ensuring the “full normalization” of ties between the two nations after resuming relations in early 2021.

Citing an unnamed source, the paper said the two countries will sign agreements that include Qatari investment in Egypt’s battered economy.

During the visit, an Egyptian-Qatari business council will meet with the aim of improving trade and investment between the countries. Qatar announced in March its $5 billion investment in Egypt’s economy, which has been hard hit by the fallout from Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Al Thani landed in Cairo late Friday and was met by el-Sissi at the airport where they greeted each other with a handshake and kisses on the cheeks on the tarmac.

The visit, unimaginable just a few years ago, and the warm welcome showed the rapid improvement in ties between the two nations since the end of a boycott of Doha by four Arab states, including Egypt.

It came ahead of President Joe Biden’s anticipated trip to the Middle East next month. Both el-Sissi and Al Thani will attend a Saudi-organized summit with the US president. The summit will be attended by the leaders of the Gulf Cooperation Council, Iraq and Egypt.

Egypt’s ties with Qatar deteriorated in 2013 when el-Sissi, as defense minister, led the army’s overthrow of Islamist President Mohamed Morsi after his short-lived divisive rule. Morsi, from the Muslim Brotherhood, was supported by Qatar.

In 2017, Egypt joined Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain in a boycott of Qatar in an attempt to force Doha to change its policies.

The rift finally ended in 2021, when Qatar signed a statement with the four to normalize relations. Since then, ties have improved and top officials have exchanged visits.

The Egyptian president has since met twice with the emir of Qatar.