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Egypt withdraws from USled antiIran initiative: Media

Tehran, Egypt has declared its withdrawal from the USled Arab NATO initiative before a meeting was held in the Saudi capital few days ago to coordinate the issue.

Cairo did not send a delegation to the meeting, the latest gathering held to advance the USled effort to bind Sunni Muslim Arab allies into a security, political and economic pact to counter Shi'ite Iran, Reuters quoted one of the four sources familiar with the issue as saying.

Egypt withdrew because it doubted the seriousness of the initiative, had yet to see a formal blueprint laying it out, and because of the danger that the plan would increase tensions with Iran, said an Arab source who, like the others, spoke on condition of anonymity.

Uncertainty about whether US President Donald Trump will win a second term next year and whether a successor may ditch the initiative also contributed to the Egyptian decision, the Arab source said.

It's not moving well, a Saudi source said of the initiative.

The initiative, which Saudi Arabia first proposed in 2017, also is aimed at limiting the growing regional influence of Russia and China, according to a classified White House document reviewed by Reuters last year.

In addition to the United States and Saudi Arabia, the Middle East Security Alliance, or MESA participants include the United Arab Emirates, Kuwait, Bahrain, Qatar, Oman and Jordan.

They held a meeting in Riyadh on Sunday (April 7).

Two sources said the countries remaining in MESA were moving ahead with the initiative and would press Egypt diplomatically to revoke its withdrawal, with one saying that the decision did not appear to be final.

We all want them back, said the other source.

The Arab source, however, said Cairo could not be convinced to return.

The withdrawal of Egypt, which has the Arab world's largest military, is the latest setback to the MESA, initiative, informally referred to as the Arab NATO.

The plan already was complicated by international outrage over the October 2018 murder of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, which Turkish officials and some US lawmakers have accused Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman of ordering. Riyadh denies the allegation against Salman.

Source: Islamic Republic News Agency IRNA

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