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New Egyptian president to visit Saudi Arabia

CAIRO — Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi will travel to Saudi Arabia on Wednesday on his first official trip abroad since being sworn in, a move suggesting the Islamist leader wants to reassure the kingdom that strong relations are a priority.

Some Saudi officials are believed to have supported Morsi's former electoral rival, a former prime minister and ex-military general, in hopes of continuing the warm relationship once shared with Egypt's ousted leader Hosni Mubarak.

Egypt's official news agency MENA said Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah invited Morsi "to strengthen relations." The announcement came after Morsi met with Saudi Arabia's ambassador to Egypt on Saturday.

Morsi is the country's first democratically-elected president, the first civilian and first Islamist to take office in Egypt. He was sworn in last week, more than a year since Mubarak was toppled in a popular uprising.

Morsi, who was the Muslim Brotherhood's party leader before being elected, also pledged after his win not to export Egypt's revolution or meddle in the affairs of other countries. That came after some officials from Gulf nations accused the Brotherhood of plotting to support regime change in their region.

Saudi Ambassador Ahmed Kattan said the kingdom has offered $1 billion to Egypt's Central Bank after election results were announced and another $500 million for general economic assistance. The kingdom also allocated $250 million for natural gas exports to Egypt, Kattan said.

Separately, U.S. Deputy Secretary of State William Burns was in Egypt on Saturday, the U.S. Embassy said, a day before he meets the new president to deliver a letter from President Barack Obama. Burns will be the highest ranking U.S. official to meet Morsi since his swearing-in. U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's is also due to travel to Egypt later this month.

New Egyptian president to visit Saudi Arabia 07/07/12 [Last modified: Sunday, July 8, 2012 12:20am]
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