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Iranian official visits Egypt to restore relations

Envoy discusses steps to patch ties severed 30 years ago, claims talks 'on positive track'

Iranian official visits Egypt to restore relations

A senior Iranian envoy held talks with Egyptian officials and religious leaders here on ways of restoring diplomatic ties, severed nearly thirty years ago over bilateral and regional disputes.
Ali Larijani, head of Iran's powerful National Security Council, met with Grand Sheik Mohammed Seyed Tantawi and other officials of Al-Azhar, Sunni Islam's prominent religious center.
He also held talks with Amr Moussa, the head of the Cairo-based Arab League and was later to meet with Egypt's Foreign Minister Ahmed Aboul Gheit.
"So far, we are on a positive track," Larijani told reporters in Cairo. "The dialogue and the discussions are going on, but we should not be hasty."
Ahead of their meeting, Aboul Gheit said he and Larijani would review the present "conditions" of Egyptian-Iranian relations, adding the two nations were "still discussing every aspect related to bilateral, regional and security issues."
The statement reflected Aboul Gheit's cautiousness on restoring full diplomatic ties.
Tehran cut diplomatic ties after Cairo signed a peace agreement with Israel in 1979 and provided asylum for the deposed Iranian Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi. Relations further deteriorated when Egypt backed Iraq during the 1980-1988 Gulf War. Since then, the two countries have had limited diplomatic contacts.
The visit by Larijani, a close aide to Iran's supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamanei, came amid a thaw between the two Muslim powerhouses whose relations were frozen for 28 years.
It also followed a visit earlier this month to Tehran by Egypt's deputy foreign minister, Hussein Darar, and a preceding visit to Cairo in September by Darar's counterpart, Abbas Araghchi.
Larijani's four-day visit to Egypt ended yesterday. Iran's state IRNA news agency said Larijani on Tuesday met with Egypt's powerful Intelligence Minister Omar Suleiman.
In a speech in May, Iranian hardline President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad offered to restore ties with Egypt, a strong U.S. ally. At the time, Ahmadinejad said his country was ready to open an embassy in Cairo as soon as Egypt agreed to do the same in Tehran.
He reportedly repeated the offer Wednesday, according to Iran's English-language Press TV channel. "If Egypt announced its readiness, we would be prepared to reopen our embassy in Cairo today," the TV's Web site quoted Ahmadinejad as saying.


Updated : 2021-02-26 10:22 GMT+08:00