In two separate meetings, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and his Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi met with the Egyptian people’s diplomacy delegation which traveled to Tehran on Monday as part of an effort to restore Egyptian-Iranian relations.
Ahmadinejad asserted his country’s willingness to provide Egypt with Iranian expertise and resources.
“Egypt is cherished and we will invest there with all our weight,” he said. “This is our responsibility and our sentiment towards the people of Egypt.” He continued: “Our enemies do not want our two people to come together. Relations must return without preconditions because there are many factors in common between the two peoples.”
Ahmadinejad added that Tehran has developed in many ways, “and we are more than ready to put all our expertise and capabilities at Egypt’s service. Egypt’s prosperity is prosperity for Iran, and vice versa.”
He asserted Tehran’s willingness to immediately restore relations with Cairo, and said that if Egypt decides to revive ties there will be immediate diplomatic representation. “I dream of visiting Egypt,” he told the group. “There is no place better than Egypt.”
Responding to an invitation by the delegation to visit Cairo, he said: “If I am invited by Egyptian officials, I would immediately go.”
Meanwhile, Salehi met with the Egyptian delegation at the Foreign Ministry and stressed that Tehran is ready and willing to cooperate with Egypt. Discussions dealt with several topics, including Khaled El-Islamboli Street which Salehi said he would look into changing its name to Egypt’s Martyrs Street in honour of those who died during the Egyptian revolution. He promised a decision soon.
The Iranian Foreign Minister stated that restoring ties with Egypt would be an asset for both countries. For example, he said, trade with the UAE stands at $12 billion; one million Iranian tourists visit Syria and two million go to Iraq; while there are 32 Iranian flights to the UAE every day. Salehi added that the Iranian government is willing to support Egypt’s private sector by all means possible.
Discussing the controversy about an Iranian diplomat, the head of the Iranian mission in Cairo who accompanied the delegation, Mogtaba Amany said it was a fabricated incident designed to block the Egyptian delegation, since there were many efforts to license a private jet for the delegation to use. He said it was an attempt to spoil Egyptian-Iranian ties, and that the Egyptian assistant Foreign Minister apologised for the incident.
An Iranian diplomat was on board the flight which took the Egyptian delegation to Iran on Monday and included an elite group of thinkers, artists, media people, clerics, businessmen and revolutionary youth.