Saudi Arabia’s ambassador to Cairo Ahmed Qattan denied claims by the Muslim Brotherhood that the kingdom had sought the release of ousted president Hosni Mubarak in exchange for a payment of $660 million (4 billion Egyptian pounds).
“It is not true that Saudi Arabia offered four billion Egyptian pounds in return for getting Mubarak out of jail,” Qattan said in a statement issued from the embassy’s press office.
Qattan warned that the claims stated by the Muslim Brotherhood’s Deputy Supreme Guide Khairat al-Shater could harm bilateral relations, still recovering from a recent diplomatic spat.
“This could affect the strong ties between the two countries and which date back to many years ago.”
Qattan stressed that Saudi Arabia does not meddle in Egypt’s internal affairs and that his country is committed to supporting Egypt through its stage of transition. “We care about Egypt because of how important it is in the region.”
The ambassador accused “known” parties of seeking to drive a wedge between Egypt and Saudi Arabia.
“But it is very hard for our historic ties to be affected, and Saudi Arabia has made it very clear that its policy towards Egypt is based on respecting the choices of Egyptians when it comes to their domestic affairs.”
Reports of Saudi Arabia’s attempts to strike a deal that will see Mubarak released from jail came days following a crisis that ensued between Egypt and Saudi over the arrest of an Egyptian lawyer in Jeddah after he was reportedly found in possession of drugs.
Ambassador Qattan was summoned back to Riyadh following protests in front of the Saudi embassy in Cairo by Egyptians who said the lawyer was arrested for his criticism of Saudi Arabia and not for drug smuggling.
The ambassador was later returned to Cairo after an Egyptian delegation headed by the parliament speaker travelled to Saudi Arabia to reach a resolution. The detained lawyer is to be tried soon.
(Translated from Arabic by Sonia Farid)