Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman sat down with Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi in a previously unannounced meeting in France on Friday, as Cairo seeks Riyadh's help in its economic crisis. 

The two leaders held a “cordial” meeting, the crown prince's senior adviser Bader Al Asaker said on Twitter. He described Sisi as a "brother" to the crown prince, commonly known by his initials MBS, but the Saudi official did not provide further details of the encounter, except for sharing a photo with the Saudi crown prince dressed more casually while standing next to Sisi.  

It was not immediately clear where Sisi and MBS’ meeting took place. MBS notably owns the Chateau Louis XIV outside of Paris, named after the eponymous French king who ruled in the 17th and 18th centuries.

خلال لقاء ودي جمع سمو سيدي #ولي_العهد الأمير محمد بن سلمان وأخيه فخامة الرئيس المصري عبدالفتاح السيسي اليوم في فرنسا.

— بدر العساكر Bader Al Asaker (@Badermasaker) June 23, 2023

MBS is in Paris for the Summit for a New Global Financing Pact. The two-day event, which began on Thursday, is to discuss how the global financial system can better respond to climate change.

On Friday, Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan met Dilma Rousseff, the head of the BRICS alliance’s New Development Bank, on the sidelines of the summit, according to the official Saudi Press Agency.

On Thursday, Sisi met with French President Emmanuel Macron. The two discussed cooperation on renewable energy, as well as the crises in Sudan and Ukraine, according to Egypt’s state-owned news outlet Al-Ahram. 

Under Macron, France has strengthened its ties with both Saudi Arabia and Egypt, increasing business, and security ties with both Arab countries. 

Why it matters: Saudi Arabia is a strategic ally of Egypt, and a critical lifeline for its government during a period of economic turmoil. Egypt is experiencing high inflation, declining foreign reserves and other economic problems. 

As a result, Cairo has turned to its wealthy neighbors in the Gulf, including Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Qatar. In March of 2022, Saudi Arabia deposited $5 billion in Egypt’s Central Bank. The following June, Saudi and Egyptian entities signed more than $7 billion in deals during MBS’ visit to Egypt. The North African country is also seeking to privatize many state-owned entities by selling them to the Gulf. 

However, it appears Gulf states are growing reluctant to provide Egypt with more help. In January, Saudi Finance Minister Mohammed Al-Jadaan said the kingdom will no longer provide unrestricted direct assistance to countries. In May, Qatari Finance Minister Ali Al-Kuwari told Bloomberg, "With Egypt, it’s purely commercial — just giving grants and charities are no longer the case for Qatar." Qatar also deposited $1 billion in Egypt's Central Bank last year. 

Sisi visited Saudi Arabia in April with this in mind, but no major announcements came out of the trip. 

Know more: Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi will visit Egypt on Saturday. Egypt is also seeking stronger economic, political and military ties with India.

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