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Egypt's foreign minister sent on regional tour amid Lebanon crisis - ministry

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Egypt's foreign minister sent on regional tour amid Lebanon crisis - ministry

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CAIRO (Reuters) – Egypt’s President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi on Saturday dispatched his foreign minister for talks with Arab nations over the regional crisis triggered by the resignation of Lebanese Prime Minister Saad al-Hariri, the ministry said. Hariri’s resignation has plunged Lebanon into crisis, pushing the small Arab country to the forefront of rivalry between Saudi Arabia and Shi’ite revolutionary Iran, and heightening regional tensions. Egypt’s Foreign minister Sameh Shoukry will tour Jordan, United Arab Emirates, Kuwait, Bahrain, Oman and Saudi Arabia, for bilateral talks, but also to discuss regional developments with a message from Sisi, the ministry statement said. “The foreign minister’s tour comes in the framework of permanent consultations between Egypt and Arab brothers on mutual relations and the conditions in the region, especially in the shadow of developments in Lebanon’s political arena,” it said. A foreign ministry spokesman said the minister will confirm Egypt’s position on the need for Arab solidarity and to avoid negative fallout on regional security. Saudi Arabia says Hariri resigned because Hezbollah, which was included in Hariri’s coalition government, had “hijacked” Lebanon’s political system. Hezbollah, an Iran-backed Shi’ite group, has accused Riyadh of detaining Hariri and forcing him to resign as a way to destabilise the country. Sisi said on Wednesday he was against military strikes on Iran or the Tehran-backed Hezbollah, saying there was enough turmoil in the Middle East and has stressed the importance of de-escalation. Saudi Arabia and other Gulf Arab states have given Egypt aid ever since general-turned-president Sisi led the military’s ouster of former President Mohamed Mursi of the Muslim Brotherhood in 2013 following mass protests.

(Reporting by Omar Fahmy and Mohamed Abdellah; Writing by Patrick Markey; Editing by Louise Heavens)
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