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Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman arrives in Egypt

As global condemnation of Jamal Khashoggi's murder continues, Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi greets Mohammed bin Salman at airport
Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (L) is welcomed by Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi (Reuters)

Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman arrived in Egypt on Monday, the third leg of his first trip abroad since the murder of prominent Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi in Turkey last month.

President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi greeted the heir to the Saudi throne at the airport in Cairo when he arrived from Bahrain after a visit to the United Arab Emirates.

The killing of Khashoggi, a Washington Post columnist and a critic of the crown prince, at Riyadh's consulate in Istanbul six weeks ago has strained Saudi Arabia's ties with the West and battered Prince Mohammed's image abroad.

The prince, Saudi Arabia's de facto ruler, and Sisi are expected to discuss bilateral relations and enhancing them in various fields "in addition to discussing political issues of mutual interest," Egypt's state news agency MENA said.

Several high-ranking Saudi officials, including the foreign, trade and interior ministers and the head of general intelligence, the official Saudi Press Agency said, accompanied the crown prince.

Egypt and Saudi Arabia have bolstered ties since Sisi took power in 2013 after ousting President Mohamed Morsi of the Muslim Brotherhood, which both countries have banned and designated as a terrorist organisation.

After an overnight stay in Cairo, the crown prince is due to travel to Tunisia where protests against the visit have been organised for Tuesday.

Tunisian journalists and 12 civil society organisations held a press conference on Monday at the headquarters of the syndicate, condemning their government for hosting bin Salman, who they held responsible for Khashoggi’s death.

“The consulate should have been a safe refuge for any journalist, irrespective of their affiliation,” Sakina Abdel Samad, secretary-general of the syndicate, said at a news conference on Monday.

Saudi Arabia has said the crown prince had no prior knowledge of Khashoggi's murder. After offering numerous contradictory explanations, Riyadh said last month that Khashoggi had been killed and his body dismembered when negotiations to persuade him to return to Saudi Arabia failed.

Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has said the killing was ordered by the highest level of Saudi leadership but probably not by King Salman, putting the spotlight instead on the 33-year-old crown prince.

US media have reported that the CIA has concluded bin Salman was directly responsible for Khashoggi's death. He rejects the allegations.

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