Egypt government defends decision to transfer Red Sea islands
A picture taken on January 14, 2014 through the window of an airplane shows the Red Sea's Tiran and the Sanafir islands in the Straits of Tiran between Egypt's Sinai Peninsula and Saudi Arabia. (AFP/File)
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Egypt's government on Sunday defended its decision to transfer two Red Sea islands to Saudi Arabia at an appeals court hearing following a lower court ruling against the transfer earlier this month, the Associated Press reported.
The transfer of the islands was announced in April during a visit by Saudi King Salman bin Abdul-Aziz al-Saud, who pledged billions of dollars in aid to Egypt.
The move, widely seen as selling off Egyptian land in exchange for aid, set off the largest protests in Egypt since President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi came to power.
The government's chief lawyer told the court that the islands belonged to Saudi Arabia and it was only a matter of time before Egypt would have to return them.
Shouting matches and scuffles occurred between lawyers and police inside the courtroom, while protesters chanted outside.
The court is adjourned until July 3.
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