Egypt and Saudi Arabia have sought to downplay reports of discord among the close allies over Syria. Riyadh is a key backer of Islamist rebels battling to overthrow President Bashar Assad. Egypt’s government, which is deeply suspicious of Islamist movements throughout the region, says Assad’s government will have to be part of a negotiated settlement. Local media say the dispute over Syria has caused discord between the two allies. Saudi Arabia has given billions of dollars to Egypt since the military overthrew Islamist President Mohammed Morsi in 2013.