Egypt president meets with regional leaders in coastal city

CAIRO (AP) — President Abdel Fattah el-Sissi of Egypt met Monday with the leaders of Iraq, Jordan, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain, his office said, as world powers and Iran seek to end 16 months of negotiations over the revival of Tehran’s landmark nuclear deal.

El-Sissi and Emirati President Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan received King Abdulla II of Jordan, Iraqi caretaker Prime Minister Mustafa Al-Kadhimi and Bahrain’s King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa at the airport in the Mediterranean city of el-Alamein.

The UAE leader arrived at the coastal city a day earlier and held separate talks with his Egyptian counterpart that focused on ties between the regional allies, el-Sissi’s office said.

The five-party talks focused on consolidating ties and cooperation between their countries, according to an Egyptian statement, which did not elaborate.

Earlier in the day, an Iraqi statement said the talks would discuss regional security along with energy, investment, and climate change.

The meeting took place in el-Alamein, the scene of one of the fiercest battles World War II that helped decide the conflict’s outcome.

Neither statement mentioned Iran and the ongoing efforts to revive its 2015 nuclear deal with the world powers.

Many of the Gulf nations — Saudi Arabia, in particular — have grave concerns about Iran’s activity in the region. They fear that reviving the 2015 deal would include economic relief for Tehran’s hard-line regime, allowing it to expand its meddling in their internal affairs.

Iraq has hosted several rounds of talks between Iran and its regional rival Saudi Arabia, whose ties worsened considerably in 2016. That’s when Saudi Arabia removed its diplomats after protesters attacked its embassy in Tehran and consulate in Mashhad in retaliation for the kingdom executing a prominent Shiite cleric.

There were also talks recently between Iran and Egypt as both governments explore ways to ease decades-long tensions. Diplomatic relations between Egypt and Iran were frozen after Egypt signed its 1979 peace treaty with Israel and Iran underwent its Islamic Revolution.

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