In an unusual break of protocol, the new king of Saudi Arabia, Salman, met Egypt’s President Abdel Fatteh el Sisi at the airport when he arrived for high level meetings in Riyadh on Sunday, March 1. The unusual move was an expression of the King’s positive feelings towards Sisi particularly at a time when parts of the Arab media have questioned whether past close ties between the two countries will continue with the rein of the new King.
This is the first time since Salman’s rise to power that the two leaders have met for in-depth talks on regional issues. The talks are considered crucial in light of the growing turmoil in the region. The pair is expected to discuss security in the Red Sea as a result of political upheavals in Yemen. It is expected that other issues will be discussed with the aim of strengthening Arab and Sunni unity. Riyadh perceives threats coming not only from Iran, but also from Islamic State extremists.
John Kerry will also be in the region this week. The US Secretary of State is there to discuss finding a deal with Iran to curb their nuclear development program which Saudi Arabia sees as a threat from its main regional rival.