CAIRO — President Mohamed Mursi will head to Saudi Arabia on Wednesday on his first foreign visit as Egypt’s head of state, the official MENA news agency said Saturday.
King Abdullah, Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques, “has invited President Mursi to visit Saudi Arabia to strengthen relations between both countries in all areas,” said Saudi Ambassador Ahmed Qattan, quoted by MENA, adding that Mursi will fly to Riyadh Wednesday.
It will be Mursi’s first foreign trip since taking over as president late last month.
“President Mursi was careful to make Saudi Arabia his first visit abroad. Both leaders will meet to get to know one another and discuss ways to increase trade and investment cooperation,” Qattan said.
“Egyptian-Saudi relations cannot be reduced to just economic ties. They are more encompassing than that,” he added.
After talks with King Abdullah and other senior Saudi leaders, Mursi will head to the holy city of Makkah to perform Umrah, the minor pilgrimage, the ambassador said.
Before becoming president, Mursi headed the Freedom and Justice Party of Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood, the oldest and most established contemporary Islamist Sunni movement.
Mursi has received an invitation from Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to attend a summit of the Non-aligned Movement in Tehran on Aug. 29 but he is yet to accept. Ties between Cairo and Tehran were severed in 1980 after the Iranian revolution and Egypt’s recognition of Israel.
Meanwhile, US Deputy Secretary of State Bill Burns arrived in Cairo Saturday to meet with a wide spectrum of leaders and groups including Mursi.
MENA said he met Saturday with the caretaker pope of the Coptic Church, Bishop Pachomius, after which he said Washington “supports respecting international human rights, including rights of religious minorities and women.” He will also meet Egypt’s first Islamist president and “convey a message from US President Barack Obama.”
US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who is to visit Egypt on July 14, has congratulated Mursi but cautioned that his election was just a first step toward true democracy. — Agencies
Source: Saudi Gazette